Wendy developed serious complications following the birth of her son Noah and spent days in intensive care. This is her letter to the blood donors who saved her life.
Dear Blood Donors,
My name is Wendy and this is my story.
On 10th November 2015, after 16 hours of labour , followed by an emergency caesarean, my husband Jonathan and I welcomed our beautiful son Noah into the world. It was one of the most incredible moments of our lives; we were parents for the first time.
My Mum thought I died in her arms on that journey; she kept telling me how much she loved me and begged me to stay. My husband ran with me in his arms from the car to the hospital, shouting for help with every step.
However in the two weeks that followed I suffered from crippling back pain that left me vomiting, shaking, sweating and in indescribable agony each day. I was readmitted to hospital for tests and an MRI scan found the source of my pain - I had pushed so hard during labour I slipped two discs in my lower back. I was given anti-inflammatories and physio as part of an ongoing treatment plan and looked forward to returning to my family.
But on 1st December at 3.45am, my husband found me passed out on the bathroom floor convulsing in a pool of my own blood. He called for my Mum and together they bundled our three week old son and myself into the car and rushed to hospital.
Mentally I was all there, but physically I didn't have the strength to move or speak or control my body. My Mum thought I died in her arms on that journey; she kept telling me how much she loved me and begged me to stay. My husband ran with me in his arms from the car to A&E, shouting for help with every step. I was treated by an amazing medical team who worked quickly to stabilise me and identify that the anti-inflammatories had caused an ulcer which was the source of my bleeding.
They gave me the first of many blood transfusions and medication before transferring me to ICU. That afternoon the surgical team performed an endoscopy (camera down the throat) to try to locate the ulcer, but there was so much blood in my stomach they couldn't see anything but darkness. The blood transfusions and medication continued. In the early hours of the following morning I almost bled out for a second time. I remember seeing the crisp white hospital bedsheets turn red as I uncontrollably vomited and passed blood before slipping into unconsciousness. I was resuscitated by a team of ICU staff, but when my husband arrived the look on his face told me that he thought I was dying.
More pints of blood were administered to replace what I was rapidly losing. By the third day I was stable enough for a second endoscopy, but as the endoscope passed through my stomach and into my duodenum (small intestine) it ruptured the ulcer causing me to haemorrhage on the operating table. The surgeons were exceptional, they quickly conducted an emergency laparotomy to save my life. They located the ulcer, stitched it up and stopped the bleeding. Even though the surgery went well, they gave me a 10-15% chance of survival post-op.
It took 22 blood transfusions to save my life.
22 strangers gave my baby boy his mother back.
22 strangers gave my husband his wife back.
22 strangers selflessly gave a piece of themselves so I could be here today.
I was placed into an induced coma on life support and given more blood transfusions and medication. With the help of the surgeons, ICU staff, physios, dieticians, neurosurgeons and many others I began to grow stronger each day.
It became evident that I was going to survive. After 11 days in ICU I was able to walk out of the hospital and home to my family. Our ordeal was over and we were finally able to be together - it was a miracle.
It took 22 blood transfusions to save my life. 22 strangers gave my baby boy his mother back. 22 strangers gave my husband his wife back. 22 strangers selflessly gave a piece of themselves so I could be here today.
I can never thank these donors enough, nor thank them in person, so instead I want to replace the blood it took to save me. I can no longer donate because I have had these transfusions, but I hope that my story will encourage 22 people to donate on my behalf. Please share my story and be brave enough to give blood; you have it in you to save a life. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.
Lots of love from Wendy, Jonathan and Baby Noah x x