Blood donors gave me the best present... my baby's life
BRINGING her baby daughter home for the first time on Christmas Eve was the best present Kelly Gibson could have ever received.
The mum-of-two was 26 weeks pregnant when her little girl, Lana Saeed, was delivered by emergency caesarean, weighing just 1lb 5oz.
For weeks, she was on a ventilator and kept alive by blood transfusions.
It was a very familiar process to Kelly, whose father, Philip, received transfusions before his death from non-Hodgkin lymphoma in 2001, aged 42.
And, because of her father's illness, she herself was inspired to start giving blood.
Lana was only well enough to leave the hospital for the first time 14 weeks after she was born in September 2010.
Now two years old, her health has been steadily improving and Kelly, 27, said she was grateful for every day she has been able to spend with her daughter.
In 2005, she was 27 weeks pregnant when she lost her first child, Dylan, who was stillborn.
Kelly, of Pingreaves Drive, Chellaston, said she would not have been able to enjoy life with her baby daughter without the generosity of anonymous blood donors.
She said: "I just can't thank donors enough. Watching Lana in the days after she was born would have me in tears sometimes and I used to cry down the phone to family members.
"It was such a difficult time and you only have to look at pictures of Lana when she was born and compare them to how she looks today to see the big difference blood donors made to our lives."
Kelly said she hoped others would be encouraged to give blood by her and Lana's story.
As part of our Save a Life campaign, the Derby Telegraph has teamed up with NHS Blood and Transplant to find 500 new donors in Derbyshire,
Kelly said: "It would be so good if people could come forward to donate blood for the first time. It's not a big thing and it only takes up a little bit of time."
Lana was at Queen's Medical Centre, in Nottingham, when she had her first transfusion and needed more blood when she was transferred back to the Royal Derby Hospital.
Along with five blood transfusions, the youngster also had a transfusion of platelets – tiny, colourless bodies in the blood which form clots to stop bleeding.
People cannot give their platelets in Derby because the city does not have a specialist donation centre but they can travel to Nottingham to do so.
It can take up to 90 minutes to donate platelets.
Kelly said: "People in Derby put in a lot of time and effort if they donate platelets and I am grateful they do.
"But, whether it's giving blood or platelets, both are so important."
Lana was on oxygen at home for six months after finally leaving hospital on Christmas Eve 2010.
She also needed medication for jaundice for three months.
Kelly has since been told there is a chance Lana might have cerebral palsy.
She said: "It was a roller-coaster when Lana was in hospital, so getting her home was better than any Christmas present.
"She's doing really well now but we just have to take each day as it comes."
Kelly, who has since had another child, Rawen, six months, with partner Rojbin Saeed, 27, had to stop giving blood herself after donor carers struggled to find a suitable vein at the last session she went to.
She said: "They said I should try again at some point but, because I gave birth to Rawen in June, I'll have to wait now until next summer.
"But my partner is thinking about starting to give blood, which is great.