BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Little Aubrey Rose will turn one-month-old at the end of January, but her few weeks of life have been full of more challenges than most see in decades.
Aubrey was born with a congenital heart defect, a hole in her heart, meaning her body can't get the oxygen it needs. At just eight days old, the baby girl underwent a 16-hour surgery, the first of three she will likely have before her third birthday. She has not yet come home to Baton Rouge with her family, and the moments her family get to hold her are few.
"I try to smile and love on her," said Aubrey's grandmother, Kristi DeLeon. "Just look at her little eyes. I sang her a little song, said prayers for her."
There's one more complication. Aubrey has undergone more than a dozen blood transfusions, but she has a rare blood type, O-negative, shared with only 7 percent of people in the U.S. Unfortunately, blood supplies are typically low in the winter months. Paul Adams, the Blood Center's public relations manager, said donations are usually slower during the holidays, leading to low stock of all blood types.
"When we're asking people to come in and donate, it's because if there's an emergency or if there's somebody like Aubrey who needs a very specific type of blood, we have it available," said Adams.
While Aubrey's parents stay by her side at the New Orleans Children's Hospital, her grandmother is on a mission to help re-stock south Louisiana's blood supplies. She has been organizing blood drives in Aubrey's name.
"There are so many other people out there right now who need O-negative and other types, so it's helping everybody," said DeLeon.
According to the Blood Center, one donation can help up to three people by dividing the donation into platelets, plasma, and red blood cells. Even donors who do not share Aubrey's blood type can help the family by donating blood to the Blood Center in her name. For every donation given, the Blood Center gives her family some financial aid to help with things such as travel expenses while they go back and forth from the hospital.
Future donation drives are scheduled for the following dates:
- Jan. 19 – Sam’s Club in Denham Spring next to Bass Pro 2 p.m. - 8 p.m.
- Jan. 20 – Broadmoor Baptist Church on Goodwood Blvd. 1 p.m. - 7 p.m.
- Jan. 23 – Kentwood Fire Department 2:30 p.m. - 8 p.m.
- Jan. 24 – LSU Union 10 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
- Jan. 25 – LSU Union 10 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Aubrey's family has also set up a You Caring fund. Click here to donate.