Do you know about Anti-D?
Saving babies relies on donors
PREGNANCY – like life – doesn’t always unfurl as you wish.
And Kymberley Forbes, who endured a pregnancy fraught with angst, knows how it feels when the future of your greatest wish is threatened.
Kymberley, whose young son Landon will turn three in a couple of weeks, is grateful every day for the many kisses he showers her with, and she’s grateful for the existence of Anti-D, a lifesaving injection that allowed Landon to be born happy and well.
This year, last month specifically, marks 50 years since the first Anti-D injections were given to Australian women, revolutionising childbirth and gifting more than 250,000 mothers the happiness of bringing healthy babies into the world.
Charleville born-andraised Kymberley said she had her first scan in Roma at 20 weeks pregnant and found out she was having a son.
By then she had already endured a nightmare of complications and a potentially catastrophic pregnancy with the little boy she now describes as “kind-hearted”, and who “tells me I’m beautiful”.
She had been told while pregnant that she was carrying one of an estimated 5000 babies in Australia which every year are at risk of developing a possibly fatal condition because of her negative blood type.
She had no idea she had a negative blood type, nor what it could mean for her baby, until her midwife explained she would need the medical miracle of Anti-D injections to protect her unborn child from developing Haemolytic Disease of the Foetus and Newborn (HDN).
“I had no idea my baby was at risk, and I was so thankful that Anti-D existed – it gave me a sense of security throughout my pregnancy, which was already a frightening and challenging one,” she said.
“Most women don’t get their first Anti-D injection until 28 weeks, but in my case I had a drama.
“They told me I was miscarrying at eight weeks because of significant blood loss.
“They said they thought that was what was happening.
“I was hysterical. I thought that was it.”
As well as being told to rest, Kymberley was immediately given Anti-D.
“As soon as you have any bleeding they give you the Anti-D,” she said.
“I kept losing blood but it eased off and we never found out why it happened. I got my second lot of Anti-D at 28 weeks, which is when most women who need it do.
“At 32 weeks I had another mishap where I had more bleeding and was admitted to hospital.
“But it eased off and everything was fine.
“And they gave me more Anti-D.”
At 34 weeks, Kymberley had another Anti-D dose, and then another after she gave birth.
During pregnancy, Kymberley also suffered Symphysis pubis dysfunction.
“It’s where the body forces the pelvic bones to separate. It was so difficult to walk, even to sleep.”
Before pregnancy, she had already been through the trauma of struggling to conceive due to polycystic ovaries.
“I was just glad I didn’t get morning sickness.
“It was a bumpy ride. “I didn’t actually have a 12-week scan, so I was just so relieved when Landon was born that he was healthy.”
Kimberley is “so grateful” for Anti-D and the plasma donors who make it available for women in her situation.
“Anti-D has been brilliant for me. I wouldn’t have my three-year-old standing in front of me if it wasn’t for Anti-D.
“And I couldn’t imagine life without my son. He is my pride and joy.”
Without Anti-D, thousands of Australian babies over the past five decades would have been at risk of anaemia, enlarged liver and spleen, brain damage, heart failure and death.
As part of its Anti-D celebrations, the Blood Service is issuing a call for more Australians to donate plasma.
“In Australia, 17% of all pregnant women are at risk, yet there are only 130 Australian donors who provide the plasma essential to making Anti-D,” Blood Service spokesperson Jennifer Campbell Case said.
“Our growing population and new medical treatments made from plasma means demand for plasma is rising every year.
“While not everyone can be an Anti-D donor, every plasma donation is vital for helping treat conditions such haemophilia, cancer, autoimmune disorders, bleeding, as well as burns and immunisations.”
To make an appointment to donate blood or plasma, call 13 14 95 or visit donateblood.com.au.
I had no idea my baby was at risk.
A MOTHER’S LOVE: Kymberley Forbes with her son Landon.