I’ve been donating blood since I was 16 years old. I figured now it was my turn to receive it.” -Linnea

When you hear stories about people who needed blood, you don’t often hear a story like Linnea’s.

In early April of 2020, Linnea was pregnant with her first child. The COVID-19 pandemic had just hit the U.S., and she was among the first people to navigate the birthing experience during those unprecedented times. As a physician’s assistant, she was already familiar with the restrictions the pandemic had imposed: stay-at-home orders, visitor restrictions, mandatory personal protective equipment and so on. But she never expected the way the pandemic would affect her experience giving birth.

“I had a pretty smooth delivery, but I wound up having a larger than expected baby,” Linnea said. “My daughter came out 10 lbs 8 oz. No one expected that—in fact everyone told me I wasn’t going to have a big baby because I didn’t look like it!”

Because of her daughter’s size, Linnea suffered some unanticipated complications.

“I lost a liter of blood during delivery,” she said. “My doctor recommended I get a blood transfusion – both so I would feel better and recover faster, but also so that my body could get over its stress response that might affect my ability to produce milk.”

When her doctor submitted a request for a transfusion, Linnea felt comforted. “I’ve been donating blood as often as I’ve been able to since I was 16 years old,” she said. “I figured now it was my turn to receive it.”

But the pandemic had other plans.

“Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there was such a shortage of blood that I didn’t qualify for a transfusion,” she said. “That was really scary, because my hemoglobin was so low my doctor was worried I wouldn’t be able to adequately feed my daughter.”

Working quickly, Linnea’s doctor instead ordered an iron transfusion. “It ended up working out okay for me. I was able to recover well and provide for my daughter. But at that time, it felt pretty scary to not have the resources my medical providers recommended.”

While the pandemic closed business and schools, cancelled community blood drives, and upended life around the world, it also illuminated just how crucial donated blood is for the health and safety of communities.

“When you donate blood, you don’t always think of where it’s actually going,” Linnea said. “The truth is it’s going to new moms. It’s going to babies. It’s going to cancer patients. I wish everyone who’s eligible to donate—who has the power to help save somebody’s life—would donate.”

Today, Linnea, her husband, and their daughter are healthy and happy. And in May of 2022, they welcomed a baby boy to their family.