Baby Eleanor arrived three-and-a-half months too early, after her mother Jenny went into labor for unknown reasons. She weighed only 1 pound, 15 ounces. Because of this, tiny Eleanor spent her next 143 days in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Mayo Clinic. Her underdeveloped lungs were the biggest issue, along with her eyes (still fused shut) and tiny heart.
“Eleanor received blood draws every day for the first few months and sometimes numerous times a day,” says Jenny. “That amount of blood volume, taken from a baby that small, was a lot for her little body to replenish, especially since she didn’t have a mature system to start with.”
Eleanor needed a total of six blood transfusions during her stay in the NICU. The transfusions helped her with her oxygen-carrying capabilities. They also helped give her the strength she needed to fully recover.
Thankfully, Eleanor went home five weeks after her actual due date. Now she is 14 months old and doing well. “I was so impressed with Eleanor’s nursing team at Mayo, but the entire care team was truly phenomenal,” says Jenny.
“We were fortunate that blood products were available when Eleanor was in need. Thank you to all who have donated; it truly makes a difference.”
Unique to this story, Jenny is a nurse at one of Mayo’s adult ICUs, and she is so passionate about patient care that she selflessly donated her kidney and part of her liver to patients in need. In addition, Jenny is a very dedicated blood donor and advocate for the cause. This is a true example of a story where paying it forward comes full circle.
Eleanor’s two-year birthday is November 17, which also happens to be World Prematurity Day—meant to raise awareness about preterm births or “preemies.” And later this year, Jenny plans to organize a special blood drive in honor of little Eleanor, inviting people to come in and donate blood for others in need.
To read more stories like this go to Mayo Clinic Blood Donor Program's Blog Page.