A MUM who nearly died after losing eight pints of blood during child birth says she is eternally grateful to the 33 strangers who saved her life, The Sun reports. Jenna Jagodzinska, 35, needed a complicated caesarean to deliver son Zak after her placenta attached itself to the inside and outside of her uterus wall.
But during the labour and in the days that followed she required life-saving blood transfusions of 15 litres of blood – three times her circulating blood volume – which all came from anonymous blood donors across the country. No longer eligible to give blood herself, Jenna was amazed when her friends stepped up to help her on her mission to donate all 33 units back.
So many friends and family have now donated, they’ve topped 100 units between them. Jenna, from Plymouth, said: “After our daughter Rosa was born in July 2012, my husband Nik and I couldn’t wait to have another child. “Rosa had been breech so I’d had to have a caesarean section, but it had gone really well and the scar healed.
“Pregnant with Zak, everything was fine until the 20 week scan.” The sonographer explained to Jenna and Nik, 37, that the placenta was growing over her cervix and she’d need a caesarean again. As Jenna had no problems with the one she’d had with Rosa, she didn’t worry.
But at the 36 week scan, the sonographer had more bad news. The placenta was growing through the old Caesarean scar. It was a rare but serious complication known as placenta accreta, meaning the placenta had attached itself to the outside of the uterus wall.
Jenna explained: “I was warned I’d need a more complicated caesarean where they’d need to essentially unpick the placenta. “There was no way of doing it without significant blood loss and the sonographer advised me not to Google it.”
But Googling the condition was the first thing Jenna did. She admitted: “I couldn’t help myself, I wanted to know what lay ahead. “There was a risk I’d die. There was a risk the baby would die. It was a complex and dangerous condition.”
As the pregnancy continued, Jenna was terrified. She recalled: “The operation was scheduled at Derriford Hospital in Plymouth for the 20th of January last year. “I knew I was in good hands and had an incredible medical team. All I could do was hope for the best.”
Knowing Jenna was going to face massive blood loss, the surgical team had all the blood donations she could possibly need in the operating theatre on standby. Jenna admitted: “Little did we know I was going to need every drop.”Nik wasn’t allowed in the operating room due to the nature of the procedure.
Jenna said: “Things were going to get messy. I refused to say goodbye to Nik. “I had to believe I’d see him again. I was wheeled into theatre as I smiled at him, telling him I would see him in a bit.” Jenna was put under general anaesthetic and through caesarean, Zak was born weighing a healthy 7lb 5oz.
With Zak safely out, attention was turned to Jenna’s stuck placenta. The only way to extract it was to give Jenna an emergency hysterectomy. When she woke up four hours later, Nik was by her side, ready to explain what had happened.
Jenna recalled: “My first question was about Zak. I had to know he was okay and when Nik told me he was happy and healthy, I cried. “Then I was ready to hear what had happened to me.” Jenna had lost eight pints of blood, more than she even had in the first place.
She had been given 13 units of blood transfusions. That evening, mother and son had their first cuddle and Jenna dared to believe she’d been through the worst of it. But two days later, still in hospital, she awoke to a stabbing pain in her stomach.
Jenna said: “I passed out and was rushed to intensive care. I had severe internal bleeding. “They drained another five litres of blood and I needed ten more units in transfusions and one unit of platelets.” In all, Jenna was given 27 units of blood and one unit of platelets, which is made from the donations of six people.
Totting up the numbers, 33 strangers saved Jenna’s life, giving her a staggering 15 litres of blood – three times her circulating blood volume. Jenna said: “It was unfathomable. I’d never know who those strangers were or be able to thank them.
“Stranger’s blood ran through my veins and saved my life.” As a recipient of blood donations, Jenna is no longer eligible to give blood again. She explained: “I used to give blood regularly with my mum, Alison. So I was devastated when I found out I couldn’t anymore.
“I wanted to return the incredible gesture. Nik assured me he’d donate but I knew I had to do more.” When friends started asking Jenna if there was anything they could do to help, she had three words for them. Jenna said: “I always said, ‘Please give blood!’
“I didn’t need gifts or flowers. All I wanted was to give blood back. My wonderful friends and family were more than happy to oblige.” Friends scared of needles and who’d never given blood before volunteered by the dozen, sending Jenna selfies from their blood banks across the country.
They captioned them, ‘This one’s for you, Jenna!’ Jenna admitted: “I was so grateful and overwhelmed. My friend Tom Harris who’s a keen motorcyclist even became a volunteer blood courier, delivering those vital donations to hospitals around the county.
“I wanted to donate the same amount I’d needed, but my team of friends and family have surpassed my expectations. “They’ve donated over 100 units so far and they’re still going. They have all become regular donors and I can’t thank them enough.”
To give blood, you have to weigh over 7st 12lb and be between the ages of 17 and 66, or 70 if you have given blood before. Jenna said: “I implore everyone to donate blood. It’s an incredible gift. “The recipient of your blood will, like me, be more grateful than you’ll ever know.
“Strangers saved my life and now my friends have saved some stranger’s lives. It’s a cycle of goodness.”
The NHS are campaigning for new blood donors
Twenty-five of the word’s blood donor organisations, representing 21 countries and covering 1 billion of the world’s population, are coming together to call for more new donors through the Missing Type campaign.
To highlight the letters of the main blood groups, and the need for new blood donors, As, Bs and Os will be disappearing around the world.
In England, there is a particular need for new young donors, black donors, and Asian donors.
Do something amazing. Save lives.
Register to become a new blood donor and find your nearest blood donation session at www.blood.co.uk #missingtype