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Release of Likeness

Pregnancy complications and a premature infant delivery at just 27 weeks brought Joe and Cris Raiche face-to-face with how a life-saving blood transfusion can save the lives of babies like their son, Sammy.

Sammy“We were so excited to be parents,” remembers Cris Raiche, “never anticipating our baby would be born early.” But 26 weeks into her pregnancy, she knew something wasn’t quite right. Realizing Cris was at risk for an early delivery, her doctor placed her on bed rest. Unfortunately, bed rest did not forestall further complications that put Cris in the hospital just one week later. “The morning I took Cris to Methodist Hospital,” Joe Raiche recalls, “I never expected the doctors to tell me that she was actually in labor. Immediately, they transferred her to Children’s Hospital and Clinics of Minnesota, in Minneapolis, because they knew our baby would need the state-of-the-art facilities that Children’s offers.”

The drugs Cris was given during the hospital transfer stopped the contractions. Arriving at Children’s, she was no longer in labor. Doctors continued to monitor both mom and baby closely and, just one day later, became so concerned about the baby’s declining heart rate they performed an emergency C-section.

Samuel Raiche was born weighing just 2 pounds, 10.5 ounces. “Because the baby’s heart rate kept falling and was not bouncing back up to a level as high it should be, the doctor’s felt the safest place for Sammy was in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU),” Joe added. “I called our family and asked them to come to the hospital and pray for Cris and the baby.”

Looking back, Cris says, “He was so tiny and I ached to hold him. It was heartbreaking to be only an observer, feeling so helpless and scared. Despite knowing that he needed to be in an incubator to maintain his body temperature and be monitored 24x7 by NICU nurses and doctors, it still hurt not to be able to comfort him.”

Initially the prognosis was good but, as things often do in NICU, everything changed suddenly and things became touch-and-go. Just two-days old, Sammy suffered a massive bleed and lost nearly a third of the blood in his body. It came about so suddenly and doctors rushed to give him a life-saving blood transfusion.

“We just felt so helpless,” said Cris. “While we were very grateful for the wonderful doctors and nurses, nothing could take away the fear we felt from not knowing whether Sammy would be okay.” Cris and Joe stayed at the hospital for the first week—24/7. After that, Cris went to be with Sammy every day, arriving as early as 6:00 a.m. and staying until 6:00 that night. Joe remembers, “Cris would read stories and sing songs. She didn’t want to leave him and wanted to be sure that Sammy knew she was there for him.”

The miracle of medicine and the persistence of Cris and Joe’s love paid off. Now an active 7-year-old, Sammy loves anything with wheels, and usually doesn’t stop talking about how much he loves his toys. He also now has a little sister, Emily—also a preemie. Thankfully, Emily’s entrance into the world was less complicated at 32 weeks. She wants to do everything her big brother does – only faster!

“We are so thankful for the wonderful care our family received at Methodist and Children’s,” said Cris. “And we are thankful for the blood donors who helped save our little Sammy’s life.”

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