Hays Blood Donor Center Drive in Memory of Jordan LaFond
The American Red Cross will host a special blood drive at the Hays Blood Donor Center from Tuesday, March 27 through Friday, March 30, in memory of Jordan LaFond. The family hopes to raise awareness about the need for blood and bring attention to a birth defect known as Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia (CDH) which caused Jordan’s death. March 31 is CDH Awareness Day.
Pregnancy is supposed to be a happy time of your life. It is a time to imagine life with your future child. But, after one successful pregnancy and birth, the second time for Brandi LaFond and her family was very different.
Brandi’s second pregnancy started out like the other one. She’d made it half way, 20-weeks, when it was time for a sonogram. On June 1, 2011, Brandi and her husband Michael went to the visit expecting to see their baby for the first time and learn the sex of their future child. Nothing could have prepared them for what came next. The doctor told them their “baby” didn’t have a diaphragm and had a defect known as Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia, which means there is a hole in the muscle between the chest and abdomen. They had to decide what to do.
“Until that day, we had never heard of CDH,” said Brandi. “So we dug in and did as much research as we possibly could do about the birth defect.”
Brandi and Michael learned there was a wide range of severity and outcomes for babies born with CDH. Some do well with routine treatment, but some do not survive. They chose to continue with the pregnancy and deliver at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) because of the center’s extensive experience with CDH.
So at 32 weeks, Brandi and Michael packed their bags, loaded up their Jeep Liberty and drove to Philadelphia. They stayed with a host family from Aug. 18, until Oct. 18, when their baby was delivered. After the delivery, they were able to live at the Philadelphia Ronald McDonald House.
“We went up to Philadelphia to be close to the hospital, because babies with CDH can come early,” said Brandi. But Jordan was born right on his due date, Oct. 18.”
Just two days after giving birth, Brandi was able to leave the hospital, but Jordan’s fight for life had just begun. In the first few days, Jordan moved from a ventilator to an oscillator (another type of ventilator) to the ECMO, a machine that works for the heart and lungs. This machine allowed Jordan’s heart and lungs to rest and get stronger.
“It was so hard to see my baby hooked up to all of those machines,” said Brandi.
When he was 14-days-old, Jordan underwent surgery. The lack of a diaphragm meant Jordan’s body didn’t create enough room for all of his organs. His liver grew too big and his lungs didn’t grow big enough. To correct this, surgeons put in an artificial diaphragm called a Gore-Tex patch from rib to rib, and moved all of Jordan’s organs to their proper places.
At the end of the surgery when doctors tried to close, Jordan’s kidneys shut down, so the surgeons opened him back up and put in a vacuum pac and a chest tube to help with drainage.
According to Brandi, Jordon’s tiny body did well with the surgery and all of the treatments, but in the end his lungs just were not able to support life. Doctors told the family that either the blood vessels in his lungs were malformed or there weren’t enough blood vessels to pump the oxygen his body needed. Jordan lived a total of 34 days.
“The ECMO, the blood from Red Cross and the amazing staff at CHOP gave Jordan a chance at life, and it gave my 3-year-old son Caleb a chance to say ‘goodbye.’ We are thankful for everyone who tried to help Jordan survive.”
Red Cross Gains Advocate
During this harrowing experience, Brandi learned firsthand the importance of Red Cross blood donors.
During his short life, Jordan needed 5,440 ml. of packed red cells, 829 ml. of platelets and 1, 840 ml. of fresh frozen plasma. The family was told this was a large amount of blood products for an infant Jordan’s size.
“I didn’t realize until Jordan needed blood, how important it is to donate blood,” said Brandi. “One of the days when we were at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia they ran out of blood and said the Red Cross was flying more in.”
Brandi, Michael and Caleb thought doing a drive at the Hays Blood Donor Center in Jordan’s memory would be a great way to honor the child and brother they lost, bring awareness to the need for blood and blood donors, and bring awareness to CDH.
“I have never donated blood, but now I’m going to give it a try,” said Brandi.
Most people are just like Brandi and her family and don’t even think about the need for blood until it becomes personal.
“I can’t believe that it took this whole experience for me to understand how important it is to have blood available for emergencies,” said Brandi. “From now on, I will do whatever I can to encourage people to give blood.”
The Hays Blood Donor Center Drive in Memory of Jordan LaFond will be held Tuesday, March 27 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Wednesday, March 28 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Thursday, March 29 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Friday, March 30 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Hays Blood Donor Center, 208 E. 8th St., Hays, Kan.
How to Donate Whole Blood
Call 1-800 RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or visit www.redcrossblood.org for more information or to make an appointment. Walk-ins are also welcome. All blood types are needed to ensure the Red Cross maintains an adequate blood supply. A blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification are required at check-in. Donors must be in general good health, weigh at least 110 pounds and be at least 17 years old (16 in Kansas with completed Parental Consent Form). New height and weight restrictions apply to donors 18 and younger.
About the American Red Cross
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies nearly half of the nation's blood; teaches lifesaving skills; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a charitable organization — not a government agency — and depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, visit www.redcross.org.
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