Friday 15 February 2019

'I wouldn't be here but for donors' - mum saved after losing nearly all her blood

Elizabeth Cooney, who had a full-body transfusion, with son Jensen
Elizabeth Cooney, who had a full-body transfusion, with son Jensen
Hannah (10), AJ (9), Jensen (5) and Emma (4) who are all pictured here along with Elizabeth and her husband Al

A mother who had a full-body blood transfusion after the birth of her last baby has thanked donors for saving her life.

"Every day I put my feet on the ground I thank each of those donors, without whom I would not be here today," said Elizabeth Cooney.

The 31-year-old mum nearly died after the birth of her son, Jack.

Tragically, he passed away, but Elizabeth said that thanks to people who donated blood "I came home to my four other children".

Elizabeth and husband, Al, also lost another son, Joey, in 2011. Both boys had a rare genetic condition called L1CAM, a form of hydrocephalus.

Elizabeth is supporting the Irish Blood Transfusion Service's #giveblood campaign.

She said that thanks to receiving five-and-a-half litres of blood when she began to haemorrhage after Jack 's delivery, she is alive for their other children - Hannah (10), AJ (9), Jensen (5) and Emma (4).

"I'm a survivor of a full blood transfusion of five-and-a-half litres. I really very nearly died only for blood donors," she said.

"Unfortunately, our son didn't survive, but I did. I lived to see another day, another birthday, another Christmas."

"I lived to hold, hug and kiss my baby and most importantly I got to say goodbye. I got another chance and now I get to enjoy my life with my family and friends."

Jack was delivered by Caesarean section in October 2015.

Elizabeth said she got to snuggle him and kiss him.

"I remember being asked was I OK and I answered, 'No, I'm in pain'.


"Eventually, the pain was so intense and my head was spinning, so I asked Al to take Jack away."

Elizabeth now knows that she had begun to haemorrhage.

"The pain was excruciating. I remember hearing the doctors say, 'We have to put her asleep'.

"The last thing I remember was Al saying, 'Do what you need', and him walking away with Jack in his arms. Everything went dark."

While Elizabeth's life hung in the balance, Jack passed away. Five hours later she was brought into the recovery room.

"I was drifting in and out of consciousness. Everything was blurry and fuzzy," she said.

Elizabeth has little memory of being in the high-dependency unit for 72 hours; she now knows she had "a major postpartum haemorrhage and I nearly had to have a hysterectomy".

"The human body holds 5.5 litres of blood and I lost five litres so I needed a full blood transfusion. I was told that as it was all being pumped into me I was losing it and it took some time until I was stable."

Elizabeth, who lives in Drogheda, Co Louth, is not eligible to donate blood herself so she is appealing for other people to donate in her place.

"Blood donors are my heroes so give the gift of life #giveblood. They did and they gave me a second chance," she said.

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