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Aurora Christian holds blood drive after coach’s wife nearly dies


Updated: January 16, 2012 10:08AM

For seven years, Kristen Tosaw was a flight nurse, watching the worst of what life has to throw at people. She was part of a team that helped piece these lives back together, with the help of other people’s blood.

“I’ve always been passionate about blood drives,” said Tosaw. “Because I saw how important it was.”

Even as recently as May, the St. Charles woman organized a blood drive at her job, an event that raised 32 units (pints) of blood.

On Friday, she will be a part of another blood drive — from 4 to 8 p.m. at Aurora Christian School, 2255 Sullivan Road. Only, this one will be held in her honor.

“You never think you’ll be on the other end of it. Or you think maybe you’ll need it if you’re in a car accident, but not for what happened to me,” said Tosaw.

In October, Tosaw was well into her second trimester with her third pregnancy when she suddenly began bleeding due to a large blood clot in her uterus. She went into the hospital on Oct. 11, received six units of blood, and was sent home several days later.

But eight days later, she began hemorrhaging and ultimately lost the baby. The following day, Tosaw nearly lost her own life when the bleeding worsened. Sixteen units of blood and two surgeries later, she survived — thanks, in part, to the blood she received from others.

“I’m alive because 16 people took the time to get stuck with a needle and give blood,” said Tosaw.

She also credits the prayers that guided her physician’s already skilled hands.

“My doctor said, ‘You were my closest patient ever. I thought I was going to lose you several times,’” said Tosaw. “But he was phenomenal and he saved my life and God saved my life. I’m just happy to be alive.”

Kristen and her husband, Mike Tosaw, an assistant football coach at Aurora Christian High School, thought about internalizing the loss of their baby, Mae Rose, but then they reconsidered. They realized something positive could come from her passing. So they posted their story on Facebook and told friends, coworkers and family. And then one day they got an e-mail from the school’s head coach, Don Beebe, asking what he could do.

“I said, ‘Have a blood drive!’ So that’s exactly what he did,” said Tosaw. “It’s the Christmas season. Everyone wants to do something. So good. Go give blood.”

Indeed, according to Jill Bernard, director of mobile recruitment for Heartland Blood Centers, the holidays are exactly when blood banks need the most help. People forget about donating during the busy Christmas rush, she said. And the normal donations from high schools and colleges dry up because schools are closed.

“So we have to make up for it in other ways,” said Bernard.

Adding to the challenge is the fact that whole blood expires 42 days after being drawn. Platelets are only usable for three to five days. So it’s not like you can have a huge blood drive, then stockpile it, she added.

“It’s definitely a challenge to keep up with the demand of the hospitals as we need 600 units every day for the 38 hospitals that we service,” Bernard said.

As tragic as Kristen and Mike Tosaw’s loss is, “Each one of those 600 units is being transfused into a patient in a hospital,” she said. “So there are hundreds of Kristens out there every day, each with their own separate story, each needing blood for all sorts of reasons.”

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