When blood attacks blood: Heather and Alison's story

When blood attacks blood: Heather and Alison's story

Twelve hours after Heather’s baby, Alison, was born, all the blood coursing through her little veins was replaced with donated blood. 27 years later, she’s grateful to those who made the decision to donate blood – and saved her life.

Incompatible blood types

When Heather learned she was pregnant, she discovered her Rh-negative blood was ‘incompatible’ with her baby’s Rh-positive blood type. This was because while Heather had a negative element (rhesus), Alison had inherited her father’s positive element, putting them at risk of Haemolytic Disease of the Newborn (HDN).

In an era before Google, Heather remained largely uneducated about the potential risks of her condition. In fact, she didn’t know the seriousness of it until she had to make a life-saving decision just hours after giving birth.

When the day came… a tough decision

When asked about delivering Alison, Heather glows: “it was wonderful.” Looking perfect and healthy, she was born at 7lb 3. However within just 12 hours, Alison had turned jaundiced and drowsy. Alison was rushed in for an exchange transfusion. Heather and her husband watched the entire procedure as their baby’s blood was drained out of her belly button through one tube, and new blood was pumped back through another.

How one experience can change your life forever

To this day, Alison’s birth continues to inspire Heather to make regular life-saving donations, and it’s a good thing she does. Those same antibodies that attacked Alison’s red blood cells make Heather’s donations invaluable. They’re used to create Anti-D, preventing her experience from happening to other pregnant women.

Is your partner pregnant? Show your support and donate

You can donate whole blood every three months, or plasma as often as every two weeks, meaning you can make a donation at least three times during the pregnancy – once every trimester.

Giving blood is a simple and powerful way to show your support for your pregnant partner, or in Alison’s words, “There are only so many back and foot rubs you can give. By donating blood, you’re giving the gift of life. It could be your partner or baby that needs it."