‘A blood donor saved my baby’s life’
One-year-old Kaden Siegel and his big sister Kendyl, 3, do just about everything together these days, but the siblings certainly took separate paths when it came to entering this world.
Kendyl, the first child of Kelsi and Kyle Siegel, was full term and weighed more than 6 pounds when she was born on Aug. 17, 2013. Kaden opted for a much more dramatic entrance and was born on April 9, 2016 — more than three months earlier than his due date of July 24, 2016.
“I remember my water breaking in the car on our way to [Presence Saint Joseph Medical Center] and thinking ‘this is way too early,’” Kelsi said. “I was only at 24 weeks.”
Kaden weighed just 1 pound, 12 ounces at birth and almost immediately needed a transfusion of O-negative red blood cells to help the flow of oxygen throughout his body, Kelsi said. He also needed a platelet transfusion as well, his mother said.
“The blood donation helped to save my son’s life,” Kelsi said. “I wish I could find out who made the donation because I would love to thank them.”
Kaden was transferred to Rush University Medical Center just hours after birth as doctors determined his situation was too complex for the neonatal intensive care unit at Presence Saint Joseph Medical Center.
“I was able to touch his little hand and then they took him away to Rush Hospital,” Kelsi said.
Kelsi recalled how difficult it was to see her son taken away and since she was still recovering she was unable to visit Kaden for a few days.
Kaden would remain at Rush for 96 days, his mother said. A bout of late onset group B strep meningitis delayed his recovery, Kelsi said.
“Once I got out of hospital I was there every day — sometimes twice a day,” she said of making the trip from Joliet to Chicago. “I just wanted to be there, even if it was only for an hour.”
Ten months removed from his extended hospital stay, Kaden is a “perfect little boy” who loves to spend time with his sister and play. His favorite “toy” at the moment is any cardboard box he can get his hands on, Kelsi said.
“Kendyl is a great big sister and Kaden loves her so much,” Kelsi said. “She is always looking to help out with Kaden.”
Speaking of helping out, that is what Kelsi is trying to do to increase the blood supply. Although she is under the minimum weight required to donate and therefore ineligible, she is active on social media encouraging blood donation.
“Whenever I see stuff about blood donation on Facebook I will always share it,” Kelsi said. “I don’t think people understand how important it is to give blood. A blood donor saved my baby’s life.”
Kelsi said she has even been surprised by her son’s progress.
“He’s crawling and cruising around and just loves to explore,” Kelsi said. “I don’t know where he gets all this energy. He’s my little angel.”
While every blood type is needed, those with Type O-negative blood are of the utmost importance when transfusing to an infant. Only 9 percent of the population has O-negative blood, which happens to be the universal blood type and the safest for those with underdeveloped immune systems. As little as three teaspoons of blood can save a baby’s life.
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