In memory of her son Axel, Claire Christie has been working to raise awareness for blood donation by encouraging people to donate at our Aberdeen Donor Centre.
'At our 20 week pregnancy scan, my husband and I were devastated to find out our 3rd child would be born with a Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia (CDH), a life threatening condition. With a hole in his diaphragm, there was nothing to prevent his liver from squashing his heart and restricting one of his lungs. Nothing could have prepared me for the Obstetrician’s news that he would have a 20% chance of survival.
'On the fifth of February 2014, Axel was born and immediately whisked away. I had prepared myself for this moment, knowing I might not be able to see or hold my baby. Three hours later I got to see Axel for the first time. He had a yellow knitted hat on, and looked so perfect. Axel needed to be transferred to YorkhilI Children’s Hospital where he was put on an ECMO machine to relieve the effort put on his heart and lungs. After two and a half weeks he was doing so well he was taken off the machine, and I was so happy I cried.
'Following this treatment Axel was able to have an operation to relieve the pressure in his chest. His organs were repositioned and his diaphragm was repaired with a Gore-tex patch. While this relieved pressure on his heart, one of his lungs was underdeveloped and we discovered Axel had pulmonary hypertension. Different medications were used to help improve his condition and he also needed a blood transfusion.
'As I watched the nurses prepare Axel and the blood that had been delivered for his transfusion, it dawned on me that blood donors don’t only help adults - they also help babies and right now they were helping save my son. As the blood was transfused, Axel’s skin tone changed from grey to a lovely pink. I felt so much gratitude for all the blood donors out there.
'While the transfusion had helped, infection set in and fluid started to build up in his chest, putting dangerous pressure on his lungs. Two chest drains were needed to relieve the pressure. However, neither of these failed made a difference and Axel continued to lose over a litre and a half of fluid each day. A further transfusion of blood followed by a transfusion of platelets was needed to keep his strength up.
'We got to hold Axel for the very first time when he was ten weeks old. After everything he had been through, it was time for some much needed cuddles. This moment was so special for us but at the same time it was the scariest, as he needed to undergo further surgery. The operations that followed did not stop the fluid and a CAT scan and MRI were needed to plan for further action.
'When the scans came back the next day, we followed the nurse and consultants to a meeting room – and it was at this point I knew what they were going to say. I tried so hard to get those awful thoughts out of my head, but I couldn’t. Having spent so much time in the hospital, I knew which rooms were used for conversations and which were used to deliver the worst news possible. We were heading to the room where the worst news was delivered.
'At 100 days old, Axel was taken off his ventilator and placed in my husband’s arms as he passed away.
'Axel was our brave bright eyed boy; we miss him every second of every day.'
To sign up as a blood donor, call us on 0345 90 90 999 or fill out our online form.
Current blood stock levels across Scotland Friday 17 September