As many of us know, things don’t 
always go as planned. Charlottetown’s Rachelle Kelly found that out when she checked into the hospital in January 2012 to undergo a planned Caesarean birth of her second child.

Shortly after the surgery began, it became clear to her doctors that the Caesarean-section would be anything but routine. They soon discovered that Rachelle had a rare and life-threatening condition known as placenta percreta. Difficult to detect until childbirth is underway, it occurs when the placenta penetrates the uterine wall and invades or fuses with another organ of the mother — in Rachelle’s case, the bladder and surrounding tissue. This can lead to hemorrhaging, severe blood loss and in many cases tragedy.

Over the next 24 hours, Rachelle required three emergency surgeries and about 100 units of blood. Without it, the outcome for Rachelle and her family could have been much different.

The role that blood donors played in saving Rachelle’s life is something her family does not take for granted. Once recovered and back at home with her new little boy and her family, Rachelle was able to reflect on how crucial donors were to her survival in the operating room that fateful day. She committed to finding a way to show her gratitude.

Since September 2012, Rachelle has been working with Canadian Blood Services to help replenish the units of blood she needed by raising awareness through the sharing of her story. She set a target of 300 units to replace the 100 she received. Rachelle is also hoping she herself will be able to return to donating regularly in 2013 to help meet her goal.

Even before facing her own hard-won 
battle, Rachelle had donated blood several times. Like many donors, she knew she was doing a good thing, however, her first-hand experience at being a recipient has deepened her understanding of the need for blood in ways she could never have imagined.

Today, her one-year-old son, Levi, is a happy and healthy little boy. It will likely be several more years before he and his big brother, Bates, come to understand why their mom is so grateful to blood donors. For now, all they know is that their mom is there to love and care for them. But Rachelle knows … and it only reinforces her commitment to educate others about the importance of blood donation and the difference it can make to someone’s life.

Photography by Katelyn Fraser