Living in Manchester, United Kingdom, at the time, Atika Sajjad and her husband, Sajjad Hussain, were about to become first-time parents. They had long anticipated the healthy birth of their first child, Laaibah Sajjad. However, things would take an unexpected turn for the worse within a few minutes of delivery.
Atika’s pregnancy had seemed to be textbook, without any issues or cause for concern. Her feelings were those of a typical first-time mom: heightened anticipation of the birth of this new little one, sheer excitement to finally learn whether they were to be gifted with a son or a daughter, and the gnawing, fearful thoughts that would arise, such as “Will I know what to do with this little life who will be fully dependent upon me for everything? Will he or she be healthy? Will I make a good mommy?”
Born on April 13, 2006, little Laaibah entered this world as perfect as her parents had dreamed she would be. However, this blissful feeling was disrupted when the staff noticed that Atika was bleeding profusely without an obvious cause. Atika had just given birth to a life—and now she was fighting for her own.
Sajjad, currently an Assistant Professor in the College of Medicine at Mayo Clinic, shares, “Immediately they began to transfuse her—giving her blood through six or seven different routes to keep her alive. She was bleeding unexplainably. I was so frightened, for I knew the extreme danger she was in, since I was a Ph.D. in Oncology at the time.” After it was all said and done, Atika had lost approximately two-thirds of her body’s blood supply, and if not for the blood product on hand, she would not have survived.
Having made it through such a traumatic experience, this family knows the sheer joy of being able to experience life together—especially during the holidays. Laaibah, age 12, and Sophia, age 7, couldn’t be happier to have their mommy with them to celebrate not only the holidays, but also everything else in their lives.
Sajjad shares, “We reflect on the whole year at the holidays—not only on what we’ve experienced together, but also what we have been a part of in the broader community. It’s times like these that we ask ourselves, ‘Are we raising our children as good citizens? Are we helping them to appreciate what they have and teaching them how they can be all that they can become?’”
Atika chimes in, “You always appreciate what you have … food on the table … many blessings.” Speaking of blessings, Atika excitedly shares, “When I saw there was an opening for a technician position in the Blood Donor Program here at Mayo Clinic, I was very interested and excited about the fact that I might actually be able to give back in this way.” Today, we are delighted to have Atika on our life-saving team here at the Blood Donor Program. She is passionate about her role because she truly understands the need for blood.
Donate blood, save lives, and give someone another holiday with their beloved family. The gift of life is the best gift of all.
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