After requiring 19 blood transfusions during her pregnancy, Katrina Hatch gave birth to premature twins who also needed multiple transfusions.
Hatch, 33, of Red Deer, has been staying at Ronald McDonald House in Calgary over the last year. She said the need for blood donors is clear.
“It just breaks my heart that not enough people do it,” Hatch said from Calgary on Tuesday.
“Meeting all the beautiful families and the kids, and what they’ve gone through needing bone marrow, platelets, stem cells — things that are easy for us to donate and it means their lives.”
That’s why she organized a two-week blood drive through Canadian Blood Services that runs until July 5 in honour of her twins Jaxson and Austin, who will celebrate their first birthday on Sunday.
“To sit down and donate blood, it takes seven minutes. That’s all it takes to save a child’s life.”
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.
“I’ve had to say goodbye to them several times,” Hatch said.
Jaxson required one surgery and was finally discharged from the hospital a few weeks ago. He’s still on oxygen.
Austin was in ICU for the first 10 months of his life and still can’t leave Alberta Children’s Hospital. He’s had two surgeries, including heart surgery. He must have two more surgeries, with another two likely. A palliative team, for possible end of life care, is now in charge of his care.
“We’re going to be here a lot longer than anticipated. His lungs are very weak. He’s never been fed through his stomach. There’s a lot of work to be done for poor Austin.”
Hatch and her seven-year-old son Kayden are staying at Calgary’s Ronald McDonald House with Jaxson to stay close to Austin.
Her oldest son, Keegan, 15, is living with family friends in Red Deer.
Hatch said the twins have a special bond.
“They met when they were a few months old and ever since, they hold hands and they smile.”
She said through her nightmare, organizations like Ronald McDonald House and Canadian Blood Services have been her saving grace.
People can donate blood in honour of Jaxson and Austin at any Canadian Blood Services clinic by asking for an in-honour card, filling in the twins names and asking it be sent to Calgary.
Hatch will be volunteering at the University of Calgary Faculty of Medicine mobile blood clinic at the HRIC Atrium in Calgary on Thursday, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and has called on friends and family to donate. Appointments are preferred by calling 1-888-236-6283.
Lisa Castro, Canadian Blood Services spokesperson, said an urgent appeal for blood donors went out last week across Canada.
“Our appointments are the lowest they’ve been within the last five years so our inventories are very low,” Castro said.
The collection target, based on hospital demand, is 199,115 units of blood and the country is sitting at 186,050.
“What we’re trying to do is inspire more families and loved ones who know recipients to step up and give back to continue to make sure that we’re able to provide the blood products to patients when they need them.”