ROCHESTER, Minn. - Every year, approximately 15 million babies are born premature, that's according to the World Health Organization. So every year, Mayo Clinic's Blood Donor Program works hard to raise awareness about World Prematurity Day by hosting a campaign, Pints for Preemies.
This year's featured preemie is 1-year-old Ella. She was born at just 23 weeks, weighing only 1lb. Her mom, Stephanie Mingus, said blood transfusions are what saved her daughter. During her pregnancy, Mingus started having complications at around 13 weeks and required blood transfusions. After she was born, Ella also received blood transfusions and spent 142 days in the hospital and her mom said the family was terrified they were going to lose Ella.
Because of the blood transfusions Ella received, she's a happy and healthy baby today. "The first month, she was on the ventilator so it was really touch and go. She needed several blood transfusions just because of her prematurity," explained Mingus. "She didn't make red blood cells as well, but I always knew on days she'd get blood transfusions she would oxygenate better, her blood pressure would be better. She always had better days when she got those." Mingus is a nurse at Mayo Clinic and said blood donors are the heroes, it's not just essential workers. "You know, I've always donated blood, but I hadn't met very many people that had received blood and in the NICU, it's common practice," said Mingus. "Most of these really premature babies need blood and it just makes such a big difference for them. It really does save their lives."
Mayo Clinic's Blood Donor Program is located in the Hilton Building downtown and you can park right behind it in lot #6 without charge. You do have to make an appointment to donate blood as they're not taking walk-ins right now. The Pints for Preemies campaign goes through November 17th, which is World Prematurity Day.