Blood is Life

Read about Leora Sweidan's experience with Stage 4 Placenta Praevia and Placenta Percreta during her pregnancy, a grave condition that threatened her life, and how Hatzolah were there to help.

On an afternoon during what she assumed was a normal, healthy pregnancy, Leora Sweidan visited her obstetrician for a routine checkup. The doctor detected some irregularities and suspected a problem. She referred Leora to another gynaecologist for a second opinion, who confirmed her gynae's fear: Stage 4 Placenta Praevia and Placenta Percreta. This is a condition where the placenta penetrates through the uterine wall into the bladder. It is one of the gravest complications in pregnancy as it often results in a life threatening hemorrhage, with a 25% mortality rate.

Being a medical doctor herself, Leora knew her only chance of survival would be in the hands of her expert specialist team and multiple blood transfusions prior to, during and post caesarean section, depending on blood loss. To add to her panic, she is an extremely rare blood type (O negative). She called Hatzolah and asked for help.

Dov Unterslak was the Hatzolah dispatcher to answer her call and amazingly, his blood type was a match. Leora remembers that without hesitation, he went immediately to donate blood. He also assured her not to worry, and that Hatzolah would help. Hatzolah runs a blood program that records on file the blood details of as many community members as possible so they can get help as quickly as possible when blood is needed.

It is important to note that only established blood donors can take part in this programme, so if you would like to join Hatzolah's blood database, you need to register with the South African National Blood Service first and donate blood three times, as only after the first three donations is your blood fully usable. Registered blood donors can record their blood details on our bloodbank page.

Leora's father and brother were both matches and both donated, but it is slightly more complicated for a patient to receive blood from a direct family member, Leora explains, as the blood needs to be carefully filtered and treated. She needed blood from Hatzolah's resources and, working together with the South African National Blood Services, Hatzolah ensured Leora had the blood she needed before and during her caesarean section.

Even at two weeks premature, Leora's baby girl is well and healthy. After five days in ICU, Leora too is nearly fully recovered. Within 24 hours of talking to Dov, Leora had the blood she needed from Hatzolah. She is enormously grateful to Hatzolah for coordinating the process and acting sensitively, promptly and professionally. She also asks to make mention of Dr Robert Crookes from the South African National Blood Service, who accumulated and delivered the blood timeously and efficiently. "I will definitely be donating blood to Hatzolah's blood programme when I am well enough," says Leora. "I encourage the whole community to donate. This initiative saves lives. And Hatzolah saved mine."