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Release of Likeness

Every year on Thea’s birthday, Cara gives back with a blood donation party, grateful to the generous blood donors who saved her life.

When Cara Bothun celebrated her daughter Thea’s first birthday, she asked party guests to offer a particularly meaningful present. “I received so much blood when I needed it—13 units in one night alone,” Cara remembers. “So for Thea’s birthday, I thought I would give back by signing up 20 people and having a blood mobile come to our house to collect blood, to give back what I had received.”

During her Cesarean section delivery, doctors discovered that Cara’s placenta had attached to her uterus and would not separate. “I had to have an emergency hysterectomy. I was awake the whole time and never panicked, even when my husband Erik was asked to leave the room.” Cara also was suffering from gestational diabetes and liver dysfunction, and began to bleed uncontrollably during the operation. “When they let Erik back into the operating room, my blood on the floor was almost touching the walls of the room,” Cara said. “In all, I lost 10 units of blood by the end of that first night—and the average amount of blood in your entire body is 11 units.” Fortunately, Cara was delivering at Hennepin County Medical Center, which has a trauma unit and high-risk obstetrics unit. “They told me that if I had been at a smaller hospital, they would not have been able to keep up with my needs.”

While the experience was intense and the recovery extremely difficult, Cara has recovered completely and now has a passion about donating blood. “You hear stories about people being organ donors, giving their heart or other organs after they die,” Cara added. “But what I say is, ‘You don’t have to die to give blood. You have the ability to replenish it in your body, and you can truly feel good about what you’ve done.’” Cara gratefully says, “Donated blood saved me and now I know that we all have the ability to give other people that same chance.”