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Owen and Megan, Blood Recipient and Donor

Overjoyed by the arrival of their son, new parents Megan and Troy were in great spirits and excited about their family’s future. “Owen was perfect and completely healthy—or so we thought,” said Megan.

The morning after Owen was born, a nurse noticed bruising on the newborn’s back. Tests showed that Owen’s platelets, a component of blood which helps with clotting, were very low. While healthy platelet levels are around 250,000, Owen’s platelet levels were only at 9,000. With his blood unable to clot, Owen was experiencing uncontrolled bleeding.

Owen was diagnosed with Neonatal Alloimmune Thrombocytopenia (NAIT) disorder, which means that before Owen was born, his mother Megan’s plasma had formed antibodies that had attacked Owen’s platelets.

Owen began receiving transfusions of platelets from volunteer blood donors to help maintain his levels. “He had already developed a brain bleed with mild seizures, so without platelet transfusions, he wouldn’t have survived,” Megan said.

However, receiving donor platelets was only a temporary solution. To reverse the situation, Megan would need to donate her own platelets to save her son. It was this that led her to Nebraska Community Blood Bank (NCBB) early one morning less than 48 hours after delivery.

“Right after we entered through the doors, the staff’s positivity was just what we needed to take some of the stress off of us,” Megan continues. “Everyone was so helpful in getting us through the process quickly, especially my phlebotomist, Angela. She knew I had horrible veins and how important this ‘stick’ was. She did great!”

Less than 24 hours after Megan’s donation, Owen received his mother's platelets. The transfusion raised Owen’s platelet levels to 419,000.

Today, Owen is a healthy, happy boy. Doctors say he should suffer no long-term effects from his rough arrival and that his platelet levels have now stabilized and rest at the desired “normal” level.

“It makes me tear up to even think about that day, the blood donors who donated to keep Owen strong and how much everyone at NCBB cared about our family,” said Megan. “I understand it’s not very often you get to meet the families you help, but I’m sure they’re all as grateful as we are for what the blood center does every day.”

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Photo credit: Colyn Niemeyer at Life Studio  

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Family Meets their Son's Blood Donor