Dear Donors: The Stannards' Story

Dear Donors: The Stannards' Story

Miriam and her young family have faced more challenges in the past 10 years than most families will face in a lifetime. Collectively, they have received over 100 transfusions. Their story is one of hope, love and perseverance.

Dear Donors,

Our family live in regional Victoria and have two young boys, Spencer who is 4 and Griffin who is 2. Over the past decade, we have seen and benefited from the generosity of so many Australians through life-saving blood donation. Throughout this time, we have received large amounts of blood products, in a range of healthcare settings in both regional and metropolitan Victoria. 

Over the years, I have had several health concerns which have required multiple transfusions of red blood cells, plasma and platelets. These transfusions have saved my life. On one occasion, I experienced heavy blood loss and complications after abdominal surgery. A major artery had ruptured and my condition declined so rapidly that I required resuscitation before I could be rushed back to the operating theatre. During the emergency surgery and over the course of my admission, I received 32 units of blood and several units of plasma and platelets, as well as iron infusions. 

I also suffered significant blood loss during the birth of our two boys, as both were born extremely premature (Spencer at 27 weeks and Griffin at 23 weeks) due to placental abruptions. During the course of my pregnancies, I had several antenatal bleeds which required anti-D injections to prevent haemolytic disease of the newborn which could have been life-threatening to my boys.

When Spencer was born at 27 weeks, he required multiple blood transfusions during his stay in the Neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Following his admission, Spencer continued to have ongoing health concerns as a result of his premature birth, including chronic lung disease, slow growth, nephrocalcinosis, recurrent infections, delayed gut motility, and growth hormone deficiency. During the first few days of Spencer’s life, he also received one bottle of nutrient-rich donor breastmilk which was greatly appreciated.

Griffin was born at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic at just 23 weeks, and like his older brother, he has had significant health issues due to his premature birth. Over Griffin’s life, he has received in excess of 40 blood transfusions, over 15 transfusions of platelets and plasma, as well as multiple iron transfusions. Griffin has suffered countless episodes of life-threatening sepsis and undergone over 25 surgical procedures. He was just 5 days old during his first surgery and barely weighed 400 grams. Following his time in NICU, Griffin has continued to have complications from his premature birth such as chronic lung disease, recurrent bowel obstructions (several requiring surgery), recurrent infections, extremely slow growth and metabolic bone disease. Griffin has also received Intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) to assist his compromised immune system and help prepare him for surgery. His most recent surgery was for the placement of a tracheotomy tube as he required 24-hour ventilation. This has enabled him to come home with his family.

Since the birth of our two boys, our family has spent several extended periods of time separated from one another. During this time, many of our family and friends would ask us what they could do to help. Generally, we would politely decline, but then we thought of something they could do – not just for our family but for so many others like us – they could give blood.

My husband and I decided to create a team called ‘The Stannard Boys’, so our friends and family could support Spencer and Griffin and the countless other recipients in need. Many of our team members have expressed how thankful they are for us encouraging them to get back into donating or starting to donate. We even had family and friends send us photos during their donation, letting us know they were doing this for our boys. Seeing and hearing these things each time a team member donates, brings us so much joy. Knowing that their selfless actions and generosity are literally saving lives, and making a difference to so many people and their families, fills us with gratitude.

For a while, being home together as a family of four, didn’t look like it was going to be a reality for us, but with the help of countless individuals, including generous blood donors, it is the reality we are now living. There are no words to express just how grateful we are to each and every person who has ever donated. Regardless of how many or how few donations a person has been able to make, these donations have changed and saved lives.

 – Miriam Stanndard

Want to help someone like Miriam and her family, too? Become a blood donor by booking online or call 13 14 95.

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