Share Your Story

Release of Likeness

“If people could just look in the faces of the people they are helping, like me and my daughter, I just know that more of them would do their part to donate blood and help save lives.” —Rhonda Battina

Pregnancy is often a time of mixed emotions: joy at the prospect of a new baby on the way, mixed with a certain amount of worry about the child’s well-being during the prenatal months. For expectant mother Rhonda, she faced one of the most anxiety-ridden complications possible during her pregnancy.

“Very early on in my pregnancy I tested positive for Rh Sensitization, a condition that occurs during pregnancy when the mother has Rh-negative blood and the baby is Rh-positive,” Rhonda recalls. “Basically, it meant that Alexandra and I had different blood types. My antibodies started attacking her red blood cells, thinking that she was a foreign object and causing severe anemia.”

Rhonda was monitored carefully, with regular blood tests to check the level of antibodies in her blood and Doppler ultrasounds to check blood flow to the baby’s brain—an indicator that ultimately revealed a severe loss of red blood cells, or severe anemia. Five months into the pregnancy, doctors decided that the best course of action was to perform an in-utero blood transfusion. “During this type of procedure, blood was transfused into the umbilical vein through my stomach,” Rhonda remembers. “The first time we were so scared and nervous and there were about 20 people in the operating room. It was overwhelming.” In the end, five intrauterine fetal blood transfusions kept Alexandra healthy until she arrived at 34 weeks.

As Rhonda and family celebrated the joyful occasion of Alexandra’s birth, she recalls, “We thought she’d be so tiny and sick. And although she was, she still was so much better than we feared. It was a huge relief.” After an almost two-week stay in the hospital and NICU, Alexandra went home to her family. “There were some lingering complications and she did need two more blood transfusions within the first two-months after she was born. But by the time she was four months old, she was given the "all clear" sign and was able to stop all blood testing.”

Alexandra is now a very active second grader who enjoys soccer and swimming. She is obsessed with gymnastics and wants be part of the Olympics. “Having a healthy and energetic daughter with me now never seemed possible in those early months,” Rhonda added. “It’s true. We have lots to be thankful for.”

Find out more about how you can help save the lives of infants, children, and adults through blood donation. Learn more at About Blood.