A Red Deer family hopes a birthday celebration this week for two-year-old twins also encourages more people to donate blood.
Katrina Hatch, 34, required 19 blood transfusions during her pregnancy before she gave birth in 2013 to her premature twin sons Austin and Jaxson, who also needed multiple transfusions.
Hatch and her sons were at the Canadian Blood Services donor clinic in Red Deer on Friday for their second annual blood drive, where people could donate blood in honour of the twins.
The blood drive started in Calgary on Monday, on the twins’ birthday.
“Canadian Blood Services went above and beyond. They got them a cake. It was a really good way to celebrate the birthday because last year we could only do it with Jaxson because Austin was in hospital and couldn’t come out. This year was really special,” Hatch said.
When Hatch was 17 weeks pregnant, she was hospitalized for two months due to bleeding caused by placenta previa. The twins were born at 26 weeks, weighing 816.47 and 907.18 grams (1.8 and two pounds). Both have had numerous life-threatening complications.
The twins spent many months in care at Alberta Children’s Hospital in Calgary, where Hatch spent 534 days in Ronald McDonald House to be near her boys.
Now Jaxson is walking and Austin, who has required the most surgeries, has learned to crawl despite the real possibility that he was going to end up in a wheelchair.
“We’ve dodged that bullet. It’s been amazing since they’ve been home.”
She said both boys still require oxygen and there’s a chance Austin may require more surgery.
“We’re in the clear so far, but we’re not out of the woods.”
She said on Monday in Calgary there were some empty chairs at the blood donor clinic, which was really disappointing because chances are everyone will have someone in their life who needs blood.
Hatch donates whenever she can and will encourage her children to become blood donors. Her oldest son Keegan, 16, will be old enough to be a donor next year.
“My grandma used to be huge into donating. I never understood why. Now I know. If it wasn’t for people taking the time, my kids would not have been here.”
Hatch said if people are ineligible to donate blood, they may qualify for Canadian Blood Services’ OneMatch Stem Cell and Marrow Network.
For more information, visit www.blood.ca.