Trey is almost a year old thanks to blood donations

PADUCAH — The American Red Cross Donor Days blood drive starts Wednesday, July 11. The Red Cross is facing an emergency blood shortage, but you can help change that.

Every two seconds, someone in the U.S. needs blood. A local family is urging people to donate, because a donation helped saved their baby’s life.

“We actually tried for two years to get pregnant. We never could,” Anna Hofer said. “Finally with fertility (medicine), we got pregnant. So, we thought everything was going to be fine. We were finally having our miracle, you know?”

Six months in, Hofer said that all changed. Doctors told her she had pre-eclampsia. “All of a sudden, they talked about airlifting. They talked about a chance of me passing away. They talked about a chance of him passing away. Just all out of the blue,” Hofer said. “We thought everything was going fine.”

It wasn’t. Her baby Trey would need seven blood transfusions during his 92 days in the neonatal intensive care unit. “He ended up having two that day, and they saved his life, you know. He was really on his way out that day.”

He was born by emergency c-section at just 1 pound, 6 ounces. His hand was the size of his dad’s fingernail. She said Trey looked gray and pale.

When she looks at Trey now, she can’t believe he’s the same baby. “His head just took up barely the size of your palm,” she remembered.

In the first days of his life, Hofer didn’t get to see her baby. “I didn’t get to meet him for three days, and those were the longest three days of my life. It was about another two weeks before we could hold him.”

Trey had blood transfusions every two or three weeks during his stay in the NICU. “He was making his own blood. It just wasn’t catching up. His bone marrow was just so premature when he was born.”

Donating blood once can save up to three lives. Trey is just one of them.

Anna said when Trey was in the hospital, friends and family wanted to donate blood for him, but it doesn’t work that way. She said you have to donate blood early and often.

Although you usually won’t find out who your blood helped, American Red Cross does send emails about where your blood was used.

Blood drives will be set up at the Cherry Civic Center in Paducah from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and the Marion Masonic Lodge in Marion, Illinois from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.

You can sign up using the Red Cross donor app or call 1-800-red-cross.

You can find out more information about this story and others by following Leah Shields on Facebook and Twitter.

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