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Your Baby Needs Blood

baby needs blood


We rounded the corner after scrubbing in for the obligatory 3 minutes. As we neared the fourth pod, I saw that the neonatologist was sitting on a stool right beside Tucker’s isolette. We were only 4 days new to the NICU experience, but I knew enough to know that if the neonatologist was camped out at our isolette, it wasn’t a good sign. We walked up and I peered in at the teeny 1 pounder. The impossibly small human behind the plexiglass was jerking his twig thin leg, in an unnatural movement, his underdeveloped nervous system still trying to reconcile that he was outside the womb. My mind was trying to reconcile the same thing.

An alarm screamed. The neonatologist began rubbing Tucker’s back, reminding him to breathe. “What’s wrong?” I asked, still unsure of which alarms meant what. “Well, he’s had a few too many events in the last hour. I think he’s getting tired. I’m running some tests to rule out infection.” Alarm screams again. I begin to cry as I’m at the weary breaking point between hormones, shock, sheer terror and exhaustion. “If I had to guess..”, she says as the alarm angrily sounds yet again, “…I think he needs blood”.

Blood. He needs blood? It wasn’t something I had ever considered. That my newborn, within 4 days of life, would need a blood transfusion. Within minutes of the doctor’s proclamation though, Tucker’s hematocrit numbers came back and sure enough, he needed the first of many blood transfusions.

If you’ve logged any measurable time in the NICU and especially if your baby was a micropreemie, you are well aware of the significance of blood transfusions. They mean everything. A blood transfusion can give your baby the boost he needs to make it through another few days or even weeks. Blood gives these babies the fight and ammunition to battle potential infections. Blood transfusions give weary and underdeveloped lungs the strength needed to continue the tiresome process of breathing in and out. Quite literally, blood transfusions save babies lives. Every single day.

Before we were discharged, Tucker had logged six blood transfusions. I know many a NICU grad who doubled or tripled that number. It’s probably the one badge that almost every NICU baby shares-close to every baby has had at least one blood transfusion. The day after Tucker had a transfusion, he would typically improve dramatically. I loved seeing that pale, dull skin turn pink again. Many times after a blood transfusion, the monitors were much quieter. The blood did it’s job. As it worked it’s way into Tucker’s veins, it carried health and vibrancy. It carried life.

So, I am thankful. Thankful for the people who walked into blood donation centers all over this country to give blood. It is likely they donated having never stepped foot inside a NICU. They may never know how critical their gift was to Tucker. They won’t know, that the pint of blood they just gave, saved my baby’s life. But I will know. And I will be thankful for their decision for the rest of my days. If you know someone who has given blood, tell them your story. Tell them how critical their blood is in the NICU. Tell them how thankful you are for their decision. Tell them why it’s not just a slogan. To give blood really and truly is, to give life.

Heather Hucks About Heather Hucks

Heather Hucks (NC) is the mother to a 24 weeker, Tucker, who weighed 1 lb 7oz at birth and spent 151 days in the NICU. She still balks at the sound of a fast food fry machine alarm that sounds eerily just like a brady alarm and has come to learn that Tucker’s NICU list of complications is somewhat mild when it comes to a 24 weeker. So far, he has no major issues from his prematurity. Heather has also learned to resist sneaking a peek at the playbook for life. She has seen through this experience that she isn’t the author and doesn’t write the plays. She works full time, blogs about her family, and tries to limit cupcakes to one a day. You can read about her parenting rookie stunts at Team Hucks or find her on Facebook.


  1. Summer Hill-VinsonSummer Vinson says:

    Heather, this was a great post, and you are so right! Transfusions can make all the difference in preemies, and I bet most people who donate never even consider their gift might be going to a tiny baby.

  2. Thanks for this blog, Heather! Our son also had many many blood transfusions, and we were so grateful for the donors that gave.
    (Last month I was asked if I’d be willing to be interviewed by the local TV station to help encourage blood donations in my area. I said yes, of course — my story, or rather, my son’s story — is here: http://www.wzzm13.com/videos/news/local/2014/05/19/9304477/)

    I hope your post encourages others to give!

  3. Thanks to everyone who gives blood! One donation can save up to 8 babies’ lives, and it was comforting to know my daughter could have 8 of her 10 NICU transfusions from the same donation.

  4. My baby girl is in the hospital right now, she was born at 24 weeks 3 days. Tomorrow she’ll be 1 week old and has already had a transfusion. I know now after reading about them, that the blood will probably be key to her coming home with us one day. If you can donate blood, please do! I don’t regularly donate, but I will now. I’m also an organ donor and have had that little pink dot on my license since I first got it at 16.

  5. Thank you so much for sharing your story on this blog!!! Earlier this evening, we got a call from the NICU where our twins Ava and Daniel have been since being born at 31 weeks. The nurse informed us that our Ava needed a blood transfusion, which came as a total shock to me. She just made it to two pounds and appeared to be doing better, and then this call comes saying she needs a blood transfusion. She is a little over two weeks old and weights 2 pounds. Reading your blog has helped me feel more at ease about all of this. I am still trying to raise my own iron levels after becoming anemic due to loss of blood and a D&C last week. So getting this hone call tonight really has scared me and put me on edge. Thank you all for your support! I look forward to reading and learning more.


  1. […] a parent, it may be shocking to hear that your child needs blood, but for premature babies, it is not uncommon. Anemia of prematurity happens in most infants born under 1 kg (2.2 lbs), and in many premature […]

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