Five years ago, Kristen Odom entered Bon Secours St. Francis Eastside eager and excited to give birth to her daughter, Caroline. After an easy pregnancy, Kristen and her doctors were not expecting any difficulties. But what happened during labor would place her in the intensive care unit (ICU) for days to come.
“I had a placental abruption during my labor that led to a massive amount of blood loss,” Kristen explains. “Our daughter was just fine, but I experienced several complications. During that time, I received around 25 units of blood products, including whole blood, plasma and platelets. I spent several days in the ICU, where the team of doctors and nurses took incredible care of both me and my daughter.”
What began as a scary, frightening situation turned in to a beautiful, life-changing story, one that Kristen holds close every day. Not only did Kristen receive another chance at life through the 25 units of blood she was given, but her charismatic personality and drive to overcome her situation allowed her to build relationships with every doctor, nurse and staff member she met at our hospital. These relationships have flourished over the years, and on baby Caroline’s first birthday, the hospital team hosted a celebration for Caroline, and in many ways, for Kristen, too.
The donated blood, the relationships and the overall experience have shaped Kristen into who she is today.
“I am grateful,” she states. “Life is a gift, and we are never promised tomorrow. I feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude to those in our community who regularly donate blood. I needed so much – and so quickly it was there. I think people donate blood out of the kindness of their hearts and never see the impact, but it truly saves lives. I would not be here today if blood had not been there and been ready for me.”
Throughout South Carolina, blood is a crucial need – and one that never goes away – but often it’s also one that many don’t think about. As the sole provider of blood and blood products for Upstate hospitals, The Blood Connection works very hard to encourage donation, oftentimes recruiting local hospitals and businesses such as The Greenville Drive to join their campaigns. This year, they’re all teaming up to host regular blood drives to make it more convenient to donate.
“Simply put, you don’t have to be a doctor or a nurse. You don’t even have to be in the medical profession to save a life,” Bruce Swords, MD, Bon Secours chief clinical officer, shared during a joint press conference held to announce the summer giving campaign. “It’s a simple act. It’s easy to do and partnerships like this are making it even easier.”
Had the blood provided by The Blood Connection not been available, Kristen would not be here today. So, Kristen has also been spending her time, sharing her story and helping to promote The Blood Connection.
“As I processed Caroline’s birth, I had an overwhelming desire to go back and say thank you to everyone involved in caring for her and for me during such a critical time. I realized that I would never know the names of those who donated the blood that saved my life, so I wanted to share my story in hopes that maybe those who donated for me would hear my ‘thank you,’ and to encourage others to continue donating. Although other factors keep me from donating, I promote blood donations as often as I can and continue to tell those in our community thank you for saving lives like mine.”
Today, Kristen and her family are thriving. In 2021, baby Caroline became a big sister as they welcomed their second daughter, Audrey, into the world. Kristen knew she wanted another child, and when doctors gave her the clearance to do so, she felt as if her family’s story had been redeemed.
“Her birth was so easy and uncomplicated. However, I am thankful that blood was ready and waiting for me just in case. Today, Caroline is 4 and Audrey is 1. The girls are the best sisters ever. During this season with our little ones, our hands are busy, but our hearts are full.”
If you live near Greenville, S.C., you can donate at a local blood drive to support people living in your community like Kristen. Find a Blood Connection donation event happening near you today.
Also, learn about 10 daily activities that take longer than donating blood