Hemsby mum’s blood donor appeal

A WOMAN who needed a staggering 127 units of blood in the aftermath of a complicated and traumatic birth is urging other people to make a regular, life-saving donation.

Sue Little, from Hemsby, almost died twice on the operating table while surgeons performed simultaneous and multiple operations in a desperate effort to stem the bleeding following a planned Caesarean section to deliver her third child.

She received the massive donation over 24 hours as surgeons at Gorleston’s James Paget Hospital battled to save her life, taking away her womb and almost all her bladder in the process – draining local blood banks as far as Essex.

Now, almost 14 years after the harrowing and life-changing experience which has left her with a host of health problems, her story is set to be taken up by the National Blood Service as part of its drive to recruit 200,000 new donors every year. NBS spokesman Claire Dolling said Mrs Little was among only a small amount people to ever receive over 100 units of blood – each just short of a pint.

Mrs Little, 46, said that after years of surgery and at least 15 operations to reconstruct her bladder it was only now that her 18-year-son Niall wanted to give blood that she felt able to speak, even to close family, about her experience.

She said her aim was to encourage others to give blood and also to remind people that even in this day and age childbirth could still be problematic and occasionally life-threatening.

Already a mother to two boys from a previous relationship, she said that carrying Tamsin – a much-wanted daughter – was memorable for all the wrong reasons, losing her twin at around eight weeks and being constantly sick.

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Marrying Tamsin’s father Russell Little, now 39, midway through the pregnancy, they even spent their honeymoon night in hospital dealing with more pregnancy-related problems.

At 32 weeks a routine scan revealed her placenta was lying low, putting her and the baby at risk, and she was taken into hospital for monitoring.

Her c-section was scheduled for October 1 and at first everything went well, Tamsin – her name meaning twin – emerging without a hitch weighing 6lb 4oz.

However, what surgeons didn’t know was that her placenta and bladder were entwined, all attempts to separate them resulting in a massive loss of blood.

A series of emergency operations followed, medical staff reportedly queuing up to give blood on the spot, with teams working round the clock, some on full 24 hour shifts to save Mrs Little’s life.

Finally she was sewn up with massive cotton swabs absorbing what was left but spent eight days on a ventilator and 14 in intensive care, at one point her kidneys failing.

Over the next few months, Mrs Little remained in a wheelchair and faced more than a decade of surgery in London to reconstruct her bladder.

A high point for her was meeting the Princess Royal when she opened the new unit at the JPH and being able to walk in to and – crucially out of – the room where she lay for weeks, her life hanging by the thinnest of threads.

Whether or not she still has her ovaries remains uncertain, the priority in the rush and panic of that day being saving her life.

She said: “We tend to think now that women do not die in childbirth but it can still happen. Even when I went to London they said they doubted if they could have got their hands on that much blood. What they did at the James Paget was amazing. I have had a lot of surgery and it has only been in the last year that I have been physically well.

“It has been an emotional roller-coaster but it is definitely a miracle. I can say that 127 people saved my life. So a very big thank you to each donor. Giving blood saves lives.”

l To find out more about giving blood call 0300 1232323 or visit www.blood.co.uk.