NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - Casey Cattell's 4-year-old son, Nathan, is crazy about Thomas the Tank Engine and has dozens of toy trains scattered around their home.
She, however, almost didn't live to see these days when her living room is basically transformed into the fictional island of Sodor where Thomas and friends chug-chug-chug around.
Cattell developed massive internal hemorrhaging a week after childbirth and was rushed to Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital. There, she underwent emergency surgery. That harrowing night, she received 22 units of blood - that's almost a gallon and a half.
"If it wasn't for a small army of medical professionals and the generosity of blood and platelet donors," she said, "I would not be standing in front of you right now."
Cattell's ordeal and those of others across New Jersey is a reminder why the state has picked this day to observe Maternal Health Awareness Day.
RWJUH commemorated the day by hosting a blood and platelet drive as well as a community education event for new and expectant mothers.
RWJUH New Brunswick and Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson University teamed up with Heroes for Moms - Cattell is the New Jersey ambassador to the national group - to host a blood and platelet drive to generate awareness of the maternal health crisis in the U.S., the issues affecting childbearing families in New Jersey and the pregnancy conditions that may cause hemorrhaging, including placenta accrete and uterine atony.
Starting at 6:30 p.m., the hospital was hosting a free panel discussion open to the public in recognition of Maternal Health Awareness Day. (New Jersey was the first state to formally recognize maternal health, safety and mortality issues by establishing Maternal Health Awareness Day in 2017, in honor of Tara Hansen and all other women who die from causes related to childbirth.)
The community event is welcoming mothers-to-be, new moms and their significant others and family members to learn about the “fourth trimester” and warning signs for moms after the baby is born.
The featured panelist is Suzanne Spernal, DNP, APN-BC, RNC-OB, vice president of women’s services for RWJBarnabas Health, Patricia D. Suplee, PhD, RNC-OB, Division Chair, Center of Academic Excellence; Division of Baccalaureate Nursing Practice and Associate Professor, Rutgers University – Camden School of Nursing and Arisa Lawson, RN, Regional Perinatal Center, The Bristol-Myers Squibb Children’s Hospital at RWJUH.