Saturday
Mar072015

« Addison Mayfield – Saved By Blood Donors »

by Tom Rademacher, Veteran Grand Rapids Press columnist and long-time Michigan Blood donor

There she is, frolicking on the playground.

And there, at the local Y, taking in a game of volleyball, swimming in the pool.

And there, too, running in a 5-kilometer race.

It’s Addison Mayfield, ladies and gentlemen – a sprite of just 8 years old, and enjoying life and all the joys it might offer the typical 3rd-grader.

Hard to believe – seeing her now – that just hours after her birth, there were emergency blood transfusions, and the roar of a helicopter’s rotors echoing across the sky, ready to airlift her to another acute-care facility; the hands of her father and mother clasped in both anguish and prayer.

“It’s frightening to look back now and think to ourselves, ‘How did we get through that?’” asks Addison’s mother, Elizabeth.

Every parent’s fear, of course, is rooted in serious challenges linked to their beloved children.

For the Mayfields, it began with Addison’s birth, when she startled everyone with an arrival that was five weeks premature.

“I had a completely normal pregnancy,” says Elizabeth, “so it was such a surprise when she was born at 35 weeks.”

At first, the 5-pound, 9-ounce Addison appeared relatively healthy. But medical personnel at the Bay City hospital where she was born “decided two hours later that she just didn’t seem to be perking up like newborns did,” says her mom.

Addison was transferred to Covenant Medical Center in Saginaw, initially as a “precautionary” measure, according to her parents’ recollections.

Their little bundle’s situation became more serious just two days after her birth, though, when doctors met Elizabeth and husband Aaron at the front doors to announce that Addison had Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension of the Newborn, or PPHN.

PPHN is a serious and sometimes lifethreatening condition characterized by a baby’s inability to convert from fetal to newborn circulation.

In most instances, it can be corrected by providing extra oxygen, or putting the infant on a ventilator.

“They had a helicopter on standby to take us to U of M in case it didn’t work,” says Elizabeth.

Addison remained in the hospital’s care for two weeks, and the nights that passed seemed to drag on forever for her mom and dad. “Even though the staff was awesome, it was very difficult to go home at night,” says Elizabeth. “Not a question of care, but you didn’t want to leave your baby.

In extreme cases, though, nitrous oxide must be introduced and then slowly weaned from the baby’s body, the treatment that was prescribed for Addison.

“You went home, and you just stared at the phone, hoping it would never ring.”

It finally did – but with news that Addison was ready to finally head home. And today, she’s a healthy student at Kolb Elementary School in the family’s hometown of Bay City, where Aaron, 39, works as a chef, and Elizabeth, 36, in security.

Since that trying time of more than eight years ago, the family has established a close tie with Michigan Blood, because Addison required two transfusions as part of her comeback.

Addison doesn’t have any recollection of the ordeal she underwent as a newborn, but pictures and stories help her to understand to some degree that her situation was touchand- go for a short while.

“She knows that she was very sick,” says mom, and so she participates in the Michigan Blood telethon, and understands what Michigan Blood is and does.”

Elizabeth says that she and her family are proud to be part of the Michigan Blood equation, and that they encourage others to donate if and when they can.

“Definitely, without those blood transfusions, she wouldn’t be here today,” says Elizabeth.

The experience has motivated both parents to become regular blood donors, something they didn’t participate in on a regular basis beforehand. “But now that we realize how much blood donation played a part in her survival,” says Elizabeth, “we go every time Michigan Blood calls.”

“We tell everyone to donate!” she exclaims. “Especially people who have met Addison. It’s hard not to love her, and when people hear her story, we follow it up by suggesting that they donate blood, because you never know who that blood’s going to help.

“We’ll always do whatever we can for Michigan Blood. After all, they gave us our family.”