Despite a difficult year, a Red Deer mother with premature twins is organizing a blood drive.
Katrina Hatch gave birth to Jaxson and Austin last June at 26 weeks gestation. The boys weighed 1.8 and two pounds. The babies have had numerous health complications since then.
To mark their first birthday, Hatch decided to organize a blood drive. People across the country can donate at their local Canadian Blood Services clinic in the twins' names until July 5. She's also hosting a blitz day on June 26 for family and friends who have made appointments.
“It's time to start giving back," Hatch said. "Being here at the Ronald McDonald House for the last year, I have not met one child – or myself – who hasn't needed blood."
When things started to go wrong with Katrina's pregnancy she needed 19 blood transfusions. Over the last year, her boys have also needed blood.
For the past year, Hatch has lived at Ronald McDonald House, a residence near the children’s hospital, with her seven-year-old, while her 15-year-old goes to school in Red Deer.
"I hate it. My family is torn apart, I constantly worry about my oldest," she said, fighting back tears. "This isn't the life that anybody should ever have to live."
She credits Ronald McDonald House, hospital staff and her 15-year-old son Keegan for getting her through the year. Keegan tries to get to Calgary every weekend, but he's had to grow up quickly.
"It's been a roller coaster," says Keegan, "I'm glad that they're alive …but it sucks that I have to be away from my mom."
Jaxson was released from hospital just a few weeks ago. Austin was placed with a palliative care team last week.
Volunteer "cuddlers" give Hatch two mornings a week to run errands.
It's little moments and memories Hatch turns to when life gets tough, like when the twins met for the first time at two months old and immediately held hands.
Blood donations needed
Hatch's goal is to collect 96 units of blood and the timing couldn't be better, according to Canadian Blood Services spokesperson Lisa Castro.
"It is a tremendous demand on our system and it's constant and it's not changing," said Castro. "Right now there's an urgent need for donors across the country, our inventory levels have dropped to the lowest we've seen in the last five years."