Leslie and Jason Webb knew there was a possibility that their child would be born with a heart defect but were not aware of the important role blood donations would play in saving their youngest child, Amelia. Over the course of six surgeries – three of which were open-heart – Amelia would receive 46 units of transfused blood.
Amelia was born with Ebstein’s Anomaly, Pulmonary Valve Atresia and Pulmonary Vein Stenosis. Her diagnosis of Ebstein’s Anomaly is rare, only 1 in 10,000 children are impacted. However, her Pulmonary Valve Atresia was what required surgery. A valve in the heart had to be opened so blood could travel from the heart to the lungs, ensuring blood picked up oxygen from the lungs. At only 11 days old, she underwent her first open-heart surgery.
Surprising Infant Blood Needs
Amelia needed blood from generous donors constantly for five days to maintain blood flow through an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation machine (ECMO). The machine inserts special tubes called cannulas into an artery to help pump and oxygenate blood outside of the body, allowing the heart and lungs to rest.
For many years, Amelia’s father Jason Webb has regularly donated blood every 56 days and shares the same B positive blood type as his daughter. He had requested a direct donation, but doctors advised there was not enough time. An average adult has about 10 pints of blood circulating through their body.
“We did not realize the extent to what she would need. We thought we wouldn’t be depleting part of the blood supply. It’s hard to come by,” said Webb.
A Family is Complete Thanks to Blood Donors
At 16 months Amelia is healthy and is meeting her milestones thanks to the blood donors that rolled up a sleeve to give. Her mother is filled with gratitude and has a message for donors that helped her daughter. “I am already crying”, said Webb. “Thank you, because our family would look very different.”
Help Patients in Need Today
Right now, the American Red Cross has a critical need for platelets. As a thank you for coming to give this October, you’ll automatically be entered for a chance to win one of five $500 gift cards redeemable at hundreds of merchants, courtesy of Tango Card. Terms apply, see: rcblood.org/game.
Schedule an appointment to give blood with the American Red Cross by visiting RedCrossBlood.org, using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, calling 1-800-RED-CROSS or activating the Blood Scheduling Skill for Amazon Alexa.
All blood types are needed to ensure a reliable supply for patients. A blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 years of age in most states (16 with parental consent where allowed by state law), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.
Blood and platelet donors can save time at their next donation by using RapidPass® to complete their pre-donation reading and health history questionnaire online, on the day of their donation, before arriving at the blood drive. To get started, follow the instructions at RedCrossBlood.org/RapidPass or use the Red Cross Blood Donor App.