Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

No life for baby without blood donors

40 transfusions for baby since birth

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Only three months old, Bailey Phillips has had 40 blood transfusions and will need dozens more before she's big enough to crawl.

While pregnant with Bailey, her mother Kristen Phillips contracted a virus called congenital cytomegalovirus (CMV) but was unable to fight the virus off before it infected her unborn daughter. CMV is a common and usually symptomless illness, but it can cause serious health problems in babies infected before birth.

Bailey was born Aug. 23 in Brandon and airlifted to Winnipeg where she received her first blood transfusion. Bailey hasn't been home from the hospital since.

"It's been an emotional roller-coaster," her mother said over a webcam from the isolation unit at Health Sciences Centre. "From finding out your daughter has a virus that I gave her, to finding out you have to go on anti-viral medication, and to have blood transfusions on a regular basis.

"Without people donating blood, Bailey wouldn't be here," Phillips said.

The dependency on others is stressful for Phillips, who never knows whether there will be blood for Bailey when it's needed. That's why she is asking people to donate blood in Bailey's honour.

Bailey looks and acts just like any healthy, happy baby, but the virus has a severe effect on Bailey's bone marrow. She needs a transfusion every three days to live.

Phillips can tell when Bailey needs a transfusion. The blood vessels in Bailey's face break, her bowel movements are bloody and her nose bleeds.

When it was time for Bailey's 39th transfusion last week, the blood bank was empty.

"So that's when it really hits home," Phillips said. "You take it for granted that the blood is there, but if there isn't someone who has a match then there's no blood."

Bailey also needs a specific type of blood product called platelets. It takes five donations of platelets for just one of Bailey's transfusions.

During the holidays the number of donations Canadian Blood Services collects tends to drop, while the need stays the same. More than 5,700 blood donations are needed now in Manitoba and 75,000 across Canada, Canadian Blood Services officials said.

On Friday, 90 employees at Epic Information Solutions pledged to donate blood in Bailey's honour. One of those employees was Bailey's great-aunt, Michele Stanick.

"All we can do is just donate," said Stanick, who hasn't been able to visit her niece in isolation.

For the next six months Bailey will have blood transfusions while the CMV is treated but there is a chance she will need transfusions for the rest of her life.

To donate, call 1-888-2donate (1-888-236-283) or go online at www.blood.ca to book an appointment.

danielle.dasilva@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 7, 2013 0

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