Five years ago, Alexis Carena had an MRI near the end of her first pregnancy to check for complications. A few days later, once the results were in, she was admitted to Inova Fairfax Hospital due to placenta accreta, which causes severe bleeding during delivery. She delivered her son soon after.
“A blood donation saved my life,” Alexis explains. “If it hadn’t been for the people who take the time and effort to donate, I wouldn’t be here for my son.”
Since giving birth, Alexis has become a passionate advocate for blood donation, particularly for new moms, and is constantly trying to raise awareness about donation opportunities, both through Inova and donation events.
Although women with placenta accreta often require blood transfusions, there are other delivery situations that also necessitate blood use. There are also many other traumatic incidents and medical situations that drive the need for transfusions, making Inova Blood Donor Services a crucial part of saving lives.
Blood is unique as a resource because it can’t be purchased; it is only available through generous volunteer blood donors.
“We’ve been in situations where we’ve needed 20 units or more for a single patient,” says Barbara Nies, MD, who specializes in maternal-fetal medicine at Inova. “If a woman has a rare blood type, getting a match can be difficult. That’s why it’s essential that we have the partnerships we do.”
Inova Blood Donor Services (IBDS) is part of Blood Centers of America, a network of blood banks that work together to help with critical or urgent needs. Additionally, IBDS works with the donation-focused organization that Alexis founded called Heroes for Moms.
“Blood is unique as a resource because it can’t be purchased; it is only available through generous volunteer blood donors,” adds Julia Ward, Marketing Manager at Inova Blood Donor Services. That means the donations must be constant to keep up with hospital demand, and IBDS works with local organizations to host blood drives on a daily basis to ensure supplies are adequate.
“There’s no substitute for blood,” says Julia. “And there’s always a need. Donating blood truly does save lives.”
Want to learn more about giving blood?
Here are some quick facts about donating:
- You can donate blood starting at age 17, or at 16 with a parental consent form.
- Only 38 percent of the U.S. population is eligible to donate blood and less than 5 percent actually donate.
- You can donate up to six times per year — about every two months.
- Inova Blood Donor Services has donor centers in four locations and operates mobile blood drives on a daily basis throughout the Washington, DC, metro area.