MINOOKA – At first, Amy Lukasik wanted to write thank-you notes.
Until this 39-year-old Minooka woman realized she’d need 70 thank -you notes. So she printed her appreciation on a large card and thanked everyone in person.
This was June 3 at St. Ann’s Catholic Church in Channahon, where Lukasik is a member. St. Ann Knights of Columbus Council 12863 in Channahon and St. Mary’s Knights of Columbus Council 12882, Our Lady of Knock in Minooka was hosting a blood drive – one of six the councils host jointly each year – and Lukasik wanted to express her thankfulness.
Lukasik is alive today because 32 strangers donated blood. She currently is calling potential donors to schedule appointments for the councils’ next blood drive on Saturday since she “can’t give blood yet.”
“A lot of the moms in my accreta [support] group want to give back the amount of blood they received,” Lukasik said. “I’m not in a place yet – physically – where I can do that.”
Lukasik is referring to placenta accreta, “a serious pregnancy condition that occurs when blood vessels and other parts of the placenta grow too deeply into the uterine wall,” according to Mayo Clinic.
Although Lukasik had given birth vaginally to her two oldest children and via Cesarean section to her twins, she had never heard of placenta accreta. The only sign of a potential problem came at eight weeks when Lukasik began bleeding and subsequently learned her placenta was sitting low in her cervix.
At this point, doctors weren’t too concerned, she said.
“The baby was fine and they assured me it [the placenta] would probably move,” Lukasik said.
But at 20 weeks, a routine ultrasound showed the placenta hadn’t budged, so Lukasik was put on “pelvic rest,” which meant no heavy lifting. This was to reduce the risk of the placenta tearing and bleeding.
At her 30-week appointment, Lukasik asked for another ultrasound, “to make sure it moved.” Thanksgiving was approaching and Lukasik didn’t want to risk bleeding around the holidays.
And then that’s when she knew.
“My placenta had grown through the [uterine] tissue and attached to different organs,” Lukasik said.
When this occurs, accreta is called “percreta.”
Lukasik was allowed to stay home for the holidays with her family on the condition she stayed within 15 minutes of being airlifted to Loyola Medical Center, where she would have the baby, which she did on Jan. 8, 2016.
“They had my baby out in six minutes to make sure he didn’t get any of the general [anesthesia],” Lukasik said.
Lukasik said that after the Cesarean was completed, her abdomen was opened up so the doctors could “find every blood vessel” of the placenta and then clamp, cauterize and cut them. In Lukasik’s case, the placenta had attached to the back wall of her bladder and had invaded her left ligament, she said.
She left surgery seven hours later intubated and ready to recover from the procedures and systemic inflammatory response syndrome (a side effect of receiving the blood, which caused her throat to swell, she said). During her hospital stay, Lukasik also developed MRSA.
But Lukasik was able to breastfeed little Noah, now 18 months, which doesn’t always happen when new moms lose that much blood, she said. Lukasik is currently undergoing bladder retraining and she may be in early menopause, due to the damage to the ovaries with the blood loss.
But she is incredibly thankful – thankful to 32 people she will never meet who donated their blood. Lukasik said donating blood is easy to do; the body quickly replenishes itself; and it’s a great way to literally give of oneself.
“A lot of times people donate blood and they don’t know where it goes, but it’s not just for some patient that’s bleeding out,” Lukasik said. “It’s for fathers and mothers and children. And it does make a difference.”
According to Mayo Clinic, several factors can increase the risk of placenta accreta, including:
• Previous uterine surgery – This includes C-section and other uterine surgeries. The risk goes up with the number of surgeries.
• Placenta position. The risk is increased if the placenta partially or totally covers your cervix (placenta previa) or sits in the lower portion of the uterus.
• Maternal age. Placenta accreta is more common in women older than 35.
• Previous childbirth. The risk of placenta accreta increases each time you give birth.
• Uterine conditions. The risk of placenta accreta is higher if you have abnormalities or scarring in the tissue that lines your uterus (endometrium). Noncancerous uterine growths that bulge into the uterine cavity (submucosal uterine fibroids) also increase the risk.
IF YOU GO
WHAT: Blood Drive
WHEN: 7:30 a.m. to noon, July 29
WHERE: Minooka Village Hall, Minooka
ETC: Hosted by St. Ann Knights of Columbus #12863 in Channahon and St. Mary’s Knights of Columbus Council #12882, Our Lady of Knock in Minooka.
CONTACT: For information or an appointment, visit heartlandbc.org or call/text John at 815 325 8409