Aldergrove mother Amie MacNeil is recruiting 129 blood donors to 'pay back' the Canadian Blood Service for the 129 units she received in a life-saving operation in 2009.

A gift from the heart

Amie MacNeil is working on a big gift from her heart to the Canadian Blood Service this Valentine's Day weekend.

Amie MacNeil is working on a big gift from her heart to the Canadian Blood Service this Valentine’s Day weekend.

She is on a drive to recruit 129 blood donors to “pay forward” as a way of giving thanks for the 129 units of blood she received in emergency surgery at Royal Columbian Hospital on December 7, 2009.

Amie, a young wife and mother of two boys in Aldergrove, survived a near-death experience while delivering her son Jacob that day just over six years ago. Jacob was delivered alive and healthy by C-section, however, immediately after delivering Jacob, Amie began hemorrhaging.

The RCH medical team went into action to staunch the bleeding with medications, procedures and transfusions but Amie’s condition kept worsening, resulting in her having three cardiac arrests on the operating table.

An emergency hysterectomy finally stopped the bleeding and physicians were able to stabilize her condition. She was put into an induced coma and spent the next 12 days unconscious in the intensive care unit.

After she awoke she spent another 12 days in the hospital in recovery and came home on December 30.

“I had to learn to walk again,” said Amie. “But I am so lucky to be alive.”

During those critical five hours in the operating room Amie received 129 units of blood, an amount that still surprises her to this day.

“I thought maybe 40 units, but the hospital told me it was 129 units, give or take a couple of units.”

This is her inspiration for her personal pledge to the Canadian Blood Service to recruit 129 blood donors.

To this end she started a Facebook page called “Amie MacNeil’s Blood Drive – 129 reasons to give” which currently stands at 320 members (see: https://www.facebook.com/groups/194445937567800/).

The Facebook page has generated a lot of interest and commitments from at least 26 persons to donate a unit of blood each at this Saturday’s blood donor clinic in Aldergrove.

“The Aldergrove clinic is almost filled with appointments, but I’m also campaigning for clinics in Langley and Abbotsford this month and have pledges for those too,” said Amie.

“And I’ve noticed that a lot of the donors are first time donors; I consider it a real victory that I’m raising awareness of the importance of donating blood.”

Amie is practicing what she preaches too. She, along with her husband Todd and mother Darlene, kickstarted the drive in December by donating a unit of blood each.

Amie will also be at this Saturday’s clinic, set for 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Feb. 13 at Aldergrove Secondary school, where she will donate another unit of blood and will stay to be on hand to greet her recruits during the day.

The clinic visits Aldergrove every two months, with the next one set for April 9, but Amie notes that clinics are more frequent in the bigger centres of Langley and Abbotsford. Blood donors who wish to support her campaign should contact Amie via Facebook (or email to 129reasonstogive@gmail.com) and she will help register their appointments at the blood donor clinics of their choice.

“It’s such a big number, 129 people, it’s daunting,” said Amie.

“But if I can convince people how easy it is — it takes under an hour — and how important it is in helping to save lives, it’s worth it.”