Eight days after giving birth, Elissa Edgington watched her blood pool on the bathroom floor of her apartment.

The 37-year-old Aucklander and first-time mum, whose baby girl Amaia had got stuck during labour and was delivered by emergency caesarean surgery in North Shore Hospital, had been back in her Takapuna home for two days.

She wasn't feeling great and in hindsight realises this was probably because of blood loss. It was a Saturday morning in March and she noticed more bleeding than had been normal as she fed Amaia.

By the time she got to the bathroom she was bleeding heavily.


"I was freaking out, I had never seen so much blood," Edgington said. "It was pooling on the bathroom floor. I called 111."

At North Shore Hospital's emergency department the bleeding continued and Edgington collapsed on to a nurse. "I was in and out of consciousness and remember Bubz [partner Bubz Adams] saying, 'Stay with me.' I thought I was dying and I guess I probably was. I was so cold ... "

Edgington was given a life-saving blood transfusion, the first of three. An ultrasound scan revealed blood clots in her uterus. She was considered medically stable but still bled.

"On the Sunday morning a consultant came in. She brought a mobile ultrasound and put me back on syntocinon [a childbirth induction medication] to supposedly bring the clots out that they could see in there ... Bubz said I was still going grey.

"Fifteen minutes later the doctor said 'I'm going to take you to theatre now. You're losing too much blood' and I had another blood transfusion."

Some placental membrane had been left in her uterus after the caesarean and had to be removed.

Edgington is speaking as part of a New Zealand Blood Service campaign to get 10,000 new blood donors. Yesterday, 469 people registered, on top of 291 people on Tuesday.

How to donate

Visit the NZ Blood Service website for a list of donor sites and to see whether you are eligible

The Herald is this week speaking to donors and people who have been saved by blood transfusions.

Obstetrician Dr Sue Belgrave said it was "moderately common" for little pieces of placental membrane to remain after a vaginal birth. It was very rare after a caesarean section.

Edgington recovered from her severe post-birth haemorrhage but the family's health woes weren't over.

She spent another seven days in North Shore Hospital and three in Auckland City Hospital being treated for mastitis, a breast inflammation that is common during breastfeeding.

The Auckland City Hospital admission came during Amaia's six-week stay in Starship for an infection in her right shoulder joint that showed up at 7 weeks old.

"She would have got it from me in labour, because I had group B strep."

Edgington, who is on maternity leave from her job as a business analyst at an investment firm, can't donate blood at present because of her transfusions, pregnancy and breastfeeding but was previously a regular donor.

She also became a platelet donor. She deliberately gained 5kg to meet the Blood Service's minimum requirement and made sure she tipped the scales enough by wearing heavy clothes for her weigh-in.

"Through my work I have always been the co-ordinator, I would try to get everyone to donate blood.

"Everyone called me the vampire.

"You never know when someone you know is going to need blood.

"I I never thought it would be me needing a blood transfusion."