Throughout September and October, the Red Cross experienced a shortage of 21,000 blood donations. For Meghan Jolliffe, this need resonated with a deeply personal story – and has inspired her to host her own blood drive in Grain Valley today, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Yard Baseball Club, owned by her and her husband.
In a way, the blood drive celebrates a recent milestone. This week, Jolliffe’s son, Sullivan, turned nine months old. Yet after a traumatic birth, during which the newborn spent seven minutes without oxygen and required a unit of blood, the arrival of this occasion wasn’t a given.
“It helps you live in the moment,” Jolliffe said of the difficult delivery. “Now, I don’t want to push him to do more. I want him to enjoy right now.”
For Jolliffe, this “right now” includes holding her son, taking family pictures and more everyday activities she can’t take for granted. In the delivery room, Jolliffe – a young, first-time mother – fought through an amniotic fluid embolism, a rare childbirth emergency that results in lung and heart collapse, as well as serious bleeding. The event left her unable to walk for two months, as well as 70 pounds heavier and in need of five surgeries.
Jolliffe, who has pieced together a series of events from family members and doctors, said she bled out for seven hours. Her heart crashed, and she had no heartbeat for 14 minutes. To restore her vitals, the medical team supplied Jolliffe with approximately 100 units of blood.
“When I heard how much blood they gave me, I was in shock that they would keep trying,” Jolliffe said. “Blood is a rarity and, at some point, you have to consider the good of all people and what is a waste. They didn’t. They kept going.”
“More people need this opportunity. Who knows if one more unit or two more units would have save someone’s life, but it was too scarce?”
As a result of these blood donations, Jolliffe now lives a relatively normal and healthy life. She says her kidneys have “bounced back,” as well as her heart and lungs. While she can’t donate blood until February, Jolliffe insists “it will be like clockwork,” and urges that others make the lifegiving act a part of their regular routine.
“Take the time,” Jolliffe pushed. “Take the hour every three to six months. It’s more important than I ever realized.”