Last July I had routine ACL reconstruction surgery. A little over 2 weeks post op, on August 8th, I was working from home when all of a sudden I did not feel well. My blood pressure dropped, I got hot and clammy, my heart was racing, breathing became difficult, and I felt like I was going to pass out. Thank God my dad was with me and able to call 911. I was transported to a nearby hospital where they confirmed that I had pulmonary embolisms (blood clots that broke off and traveled from my leg to my lungs). They administered some drugs to [try to] break down the clots, and they made a decision to have me airlifted to another nearby hospital, which was better equipped to care for me. I was sedated, intubated, given more meds to bring my blood pressure up enough to fly, and off I went for an 8 minute flight.
Upon arrival at the second hospital and with my parents permission, I was immediately put on VA-ECMO, a life saving heart and lung bypass machine that removes gasses and the bad stuff from your blood and returns it oxygenated. This is done in the OR as they insert cannulas that look like garden hoses into the artery in each groin. During the procedure, I required a couple units of blood and also needed to be shocked once. You can read more about those first days and my recovery at my CaringBridge journal (https://www.caringbridge.org/visit/alexisextract).
My birthday is in March and I’m ready to celebrate in a big way. I was fortunate to survive my pulmonary embolisms but that’s not the case for many. According to the National Blood Clot Alliance, more people die each year from blood clots than AIDS, breast cancer, and motor vehicle accidents combined. So for me, being around to celebrate this first birthday since my medical emergency is an absolute blessing and I want to give back.
In researching and trying to figure out what I want to do, I learned March, my birthday month, just happens to be Blood Clot Awareness month! What a coincidence! During the month of March, expect a lot of related content, but I want to challenge my community (nationally) to donate blood at an American Red Cross near you. There is a national shortage of blood and I can’t begin to fathom needing some and there not being any. This is such an easy way to give the gift of life to someone without reaching into your pockets.
Can’t donate blood? That’s okay! I know there are reasons that might disqualify someone (like myself who is on a blood thinner, for example) but you can still make a difference by sharing this campaign with others.
Thank you for being a part of my journey. I hope you’ll join me in doing what we can do to help save a life (or 3). Grab a friend or a family member and you can make a difference!