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Canada Needs More People With This Blood Type To Donate & This Woman's Story Proves Why

Only 7% of Canadians have it and even fewer donate it.

Contributing Writer
Canada Needs More People With This Blood Type To Donate & This Woman's Story Proves Why

Did you know that the average adult has around five litres of blood running through their body at any given time? If you're pregnant, that amount increases.

Laine Greenidge, a Canadian mother of two, lost almost all of that during an emergency that left her needing five blood transfusions after the birth of her son in 2020.

Six weeks into the pandemic's first lockdown, a COVID-19 outbreak at Laine's local hospital motivated her to deliver her son Jakobe at her home in Ontario instead.

On April 29, 2020, Jakobe was born healthy and everything seemed perfect — until minutes later when Laine delivered the placenta, an organ that develops in the mother's uterus during pregnancy to nourish the baby.

What should have been a routine and relatively painless procedure quickly became a medical emergency.

Laine experienced a uterine inversion, a rare and life-threatening complication where the placenta fails to detach from the uterine wall and pulls the uterus inside out as it exits the body. She also suffered a prolapsed uterus, which can happen when the pelvic floor muscles no longer have the strength to support the uterus.

As a result of both of these complications, Laine began to lose a significant amount of blood very quickly.

"I was essentially bleeding out," she told Narcity in an interview, adding that the pain was so intense that it was "worse than childbirth."

"I was pretty sure this was it," she added. "Looking at the midwives you could tell something pretty serious was happening."

Laine remembers regaining consciousness in the driveway surrounded by ambulances before being rushed through the hospital by doctors and nurses — an experience she recounts as "like something out of a movie or Grey's Anatomy."

She woke up several hours later, her life saved by quick-thinking medical professionals and five O-negative (O-) blood transfusions.

As the only blood type that everyone can receive, O- blood is almost always the first type administered in accidents and surgical emergencies. It’s also the only type of blood that O-negative patients, like Laine, can receive safely.

In life-or-death emergencies, when there's no time to check the patient's blood type, having O- blood on hand is absolutely critical — but only 7% of Canadians have it, and even fewer donate it.

Anyone with this blood type is considered a "universal donor," and people with O- blood are strongly encouraged to donate regularly.

In Canada and around the world, the demand for O- blood in emergencies is increasing. Now is a critical time for patients who rely on this lifesaving blood.

Laine believes "100%" that her life was saved thanks to the O- blood that she received after Jakobe was born.

"You hear these stories and you think, 'Oh that's never going to happen to me, that happens to other people,' and this is a prime example of why blood donation is so critical because it can happen to you or someone you know really close to you.”

Courtesy of Laine Greenidge

"Even if you thought about donating blood, even if you can do it only one time, it takes so little time and so little effort to make such a huge impact on somebody's life," Laine told Narcity.

And she's right. The entire blood donation process — from the minute you walk into the donor centre until you leave — takes just over an hour.

If you've never donated blood with Canadian Blood Services before, you can expect to be greeted by friendly staff before completing a questionnaire and a quick finger-prick test to check your iron levels.

When the time comes to donate, you'll get to sit back and relax in a comfy chair. The actual donation only takes about 5-10 minutes, and you can enjoy complimentary snacks and drinks after.

While people with O- blood have a unique opportunity to help patients like Laine in emergency situations, donors with any blood type are always needed.

"It's one of the easiest things you can do to give back to the people around you," Laine said.

"As scary as it might be or as unsure as you are, just remember that it can happen to anybody and it could be you that needs blood in an emergency.

"What a gift it would be to know that your donation helped save somebody."

To learn more about O-negative blood and to book an appointment to donate, visit Canadian Blood Services' website or follow them on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or YouTube.

This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.

The information in this article is not intended and should not be construed as medical advice. Consult your health care provider before making any health care decisions or for guidance about a specific medical condition.