Plasma and Progress

I just got back from Indianapolis, where I was donating plasma. And yes, I did fly all the way from Alabama to Indiana just to donate plasma! Since last summer I have been part of a red cell antibody study that helps pregnant women. They use my plasma to create test kits that help doctors identify antibodies in pregnant women. Every pregnant woman in America (who gets prenatal care) is tested for these antibodies at the beginning of her pregnancy. It’s part of the routine blood work. Every one of those tests was created by using plasma from people like me who already have the antibodies.

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Somehow my plasma donation selfie came out looking weirdly sultry?!

This opportunity to donate plasma has been such a blessing to me. It feels good to be able to use these horrible antibodies that killed my daughter to help other pregnant women and other babies. When I donate, the company flies me up to Indy, has a driver waiting for me when I step off the plane and provides a beautiful suite downtown for me to stay in. I get three days to myself to relax, regroup, spend time with God, SLEEP without interruptions, shop, and explore the city.

I donated quite a lot last summer, then took about a year break and just went back this week. Not only was this trip refreshing and relaxing, but it has highlighted how far I have come in the past year. I am just now realizing how much healing has taken place since I was here last. Every one of my trips last year was accompanied by a heavy weight of depression, hopelessness and despair. Every baby that cried in the airport was an insult to my senses, searing straight into my heart. On one of my flights last year, there was a young couple with a baby right across the aisle from me. The flight felt like torture for all of us. I visibly cringed every time the baby made any type of sound (happy babble, irritable cry, cute laugh) and the parents probably thought I was just one of those people who get annoyed with babies on flights. I almost spoke up and told them that my dead baby’s due date was coming up in a few short weeks and that it was me, not them. But I knew I would start pouring tears before I could even get a word out, so I kept quiet. When I tried shopping downtown, all that caught my eye was the baby girl sections, every flash of pink a painful reminder. Once, when I was in H&M I almost felt like I was going to throw up when I saw their baby girl section, it made me so sad. I tried eating out at lots of great restaurants, and the food tasted like cardboard. I tried relaxing when I was alone in my hotel room, but it was worse to be alone with my thoughts.

For some reason, being on an airplane always brings me face to face with my mortality. Every time the plane takes off I think, “There is NO way this is going to work! How can this giant piece of metal fly in the air? I know I’m going to die.” But last year I felt a great peace on the airplane, thinking that I could maybe die and go be with Lucy. I felt fine with the idea of crashing in a giant ball of fire (even though I knew logically it is more dangerous driving to the airport than flying on the plane.)

This year, I felt a healthy (albeit irrational) fear when my plane was taking off. I was so pleased to feel my sweating palms and my rapid pulse. I felt like jumping up and hugging the passengers around me because I WANTED TO STAY. I wanted to shout out so everyone could hear, “I want to stay! I’m not ready to die!” This is a new and exciting realization for me. Honestly, since Lucy’s heart stopped until just recently I have wanted to die and go to heaven. When you are in so much pain, your natural reaction is to try to escape the pain. I was going to stay here for my boys and for Josh and because I would never commit suicide, but I didn’t want to be here in this terrible world of pain and disappointment and heartache. But now, I WANT to be here. I am not ready to go. I want to finish my days on earth with Josh and I want to see my children grow up. I am so excited about our new daughter and there are things that make me want to stay. I see that healing is taking place. The first night I was in Indianapolis this week I slept 12 glorious hours and relished the dark, quiet solitude of my hotel room. I found an amazing Indian restaurant and (not lying) probably ate the best meal of my life. It was so amazing, I called Josh just to describe the deliciousness. When I went shopping I sought out the baby girl section and bought SO many cute pink things and checkered things and frilly things and my heart sang with joy as I spent all of my money. Josh’s heart did not sing when I told him about my extensive shopping adventures, ha ha!

Another sharp contrast did not really have to do with me, but with my friend Sara who lost her baby Luke last year. The first time she emailed me was last year while I was on a donation trip in Indianapolis. She had come across my blog and wanted to share Luke’s story with me. It wasn’t that long after her Luke had gone to heaven and the grief was still so fresh. I immediately felt a connection with her and with Luke and felt her loss so deeply. It was the start of a beautiful relationship that carried me through the rest of my dark grieving days. But during this trip to Indianapolis we weren’t texting about loss, we were texting about her rainbow baby, who she was preparing to meet. Samuel Hudson was born yesterday, actually, and he is perfect. I have been praying for God to give Sara this baby since she first emailed me when I was in Indianapolis last year. It is so wonderful to see God’s goodness in action, to see His promises come to fruition. I am still trusting that my turn is coming.

I am so thankful for the healing that is slowly mending my wounds and the joy that is gradually creeping back in. I honestly NEVER thought it would happen. I thought the darkness was too black and the pain was too deep. When I first created this blog I almost laughed at my silly self for naming it “Losing Lucy and FINDING HOPE” because I truly doubted that I would ever find hope again. But God is more powerful than we give Him credit for. Are you in the darkness that seems too black to escape? Are you in so much pain that you think you will never be healed? Trust in God and ask Him to heal you (even if you think He can’t.) He will not fail you.

Hebrews 10:23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope, without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.

Psalm 147:3 He heals the broken hearted and binds up their wounds.

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10 thoughts on “Plasma and Progress

  1. How long have you been donating plasma, needles can be scary almost as much as planes… what type of K are you ? I have 3 children and I am also K they found it at the end of my 2nd pregancy 2 weeks before delivery of my 9 lb 2 oz daughter,but I never had any issues, not even with the 3rd & they never even monitored me during my pregnancy,just wondering if the type of K matters.

    • I’ve been donating for a little over a year. And the needles are no big deal, planes are way scarier to me! I have anti-kell antibodies, not sure what the other types of K are. Did you get sensitized after a blood transfusion? Usually in that case the baby is not at risk, since the father has to be kell positive in order for the antibodies to affect the baby. I think there’s only a 9% chance of that happening. If your husband is kell negative, that’s probably why you weren’t monitored and your kids weren’t in danger. Or, you might have had a really low titer (below 1:8) which would also mean the baby wasn’t in danger. Either way, I’m glad your babies are healthy 🙂

      • Here are most of the antigens & their frequency by race
        ~100%: k, Kpb, Ku, Jsb, K11, K12, K13, K14, K18, K19, Km, K22, K26, K27
        K antigen: 2% in Blacks, 9% in Caucasians, up to 25% in Arabs
        ~2%: Kpa, U1a
        ~0.01%: Jsa (0.01% in Caucasians, 20% in Blacks), Kpc, K23

      • its actually very important to find out if your K or k, capital or lower case letters make a difference as to how it could affect your pregnancy, I’ve read that capital K is the main concern

      • Oh ok, I wasn’t sure what you meant when you said what type of K. The big and little Ks just tell whether your husband is homozygous or heterozygous for kell. The big K is the dominant gene and the little one is the recessive gene. If your husband is the big K, your baby has a 100% chance of being kell positive, if it’s the little k (like my husband) your baby has a 50% chance of being affected. But both are dangerous. Josh was little k and Lucy died

      • I’m sorry for your loss, I am so glad you found strength in the Lord, losing a child at any point in life can’t be easy. I almost lost my son a few times between the time he was 17 & 22 years old, as soon as I let go & let God, my son found God for himself on his 23rd birthday 8/4/13.
        My part in the Kell group is anti kpa which I just found out has the least chance of causing problems for the baby, I do have to freeze blood for myself in case i ever need it.
        The doctors & the hospital really didnt have any information to give me when they found it 20 years ago, my obgyn just said pray I don’t need any blood during delivery.
        From what I have read Kell is on the same lines as Rh which is how we are labeled as blood types B+ (B, with Rh factors) B- (B, no Rh factors).
        I will pray for all the families on this site daily,
        Thank you for sharing your story, and a great big thanks to you & Lucy for giving hope to women when they need it most,

  2. This is sweet. I am glad you had such a good trip. Sara had her baby! When I read this, I cried. So happy for you, Sara! “Weeping may endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning.”

  3. Awwhhh!! In the Spirit I could sense her baby had been born. I went to her site but she hadn’t posted since the 12th! So amazing!! I know God is leading you to your little girl made by Him just for your family and the broken places in your hearts. God bless you ever more Bethany. I’m so excited and thankful for Him uniting us even in pain and suffering. Jesus WINS.

  4. Hi. I have been following your blog since I found out I have anti-kell antibodies last year. I love following your story. Somehow I feel bonded to people I don’t even know because of these crazy things. Just curious, who is doing the study in Indianapolis that you donate plasma for? I live in that area.

    • Thanks for following my story, Lindsey! I think the company is called Access Biologicals…but I’m not sure. I should know this by now! I can put you in contact with them if you are interested in donating plasma (but your titer kind of needs to be high.)

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