San Diego

15-Ounce ‘Micro-Preemie' Raising Awareness for Holiday Blood Donations

"They're doing a lot of blood work on her and she can't produce enough blood to keep up with the tests," mom Courtney Almazan said.

A tiny baby born four months early and weighing just 15-ounces has already made a name for herself at the San Diego Blood Bank triggering more than 300 blood donations. 

"Micro-Preemie" Giselle Flores was born on Nov. 17 after her mother was diagnosed with Hemolysis, Elevated Liver Enzymes, Low Platelet Count (HELLP) syndrome, a life-threatening pregnancy complication and severe form of preeclampsia.

Courtney Almazan, Giselle's mother, had complained of severe headaches, swelling, and nausea before her emergency room visit, all of which turned out to be signs of liver and kidney failure.

Doctors rushed Courtney Almazan into surgery for an emergency C-section saving her life, while at the same time giving another life one of the most fragile beginnings ever seen.

"It's crazy, she seems bigger in pictures or on your phone, but in real life, she's tiny," Courtney Almazan said.

Premie Baby Giselle (2)
Mom, Courtney Almazan spending time with Giselle.

Baby Giselle has no fat, can't breathe on her own, and has already had three blood transfusions in her first two weeks in the Sharp Mary Birch Hospital NICU.

"They're doing a lot of blood work on her and she can't produce enough blood to keep up with the tests," Courtney Almazan said. 

Her family, wanting to do something to help in this helpless time, put out a call to friends about donating blood.

The message spread quickly on social media, so much the San Diego Blood Bank even created a special code for people donating in honor of baby Giselle.

"The timing couldn't be better," said David Wellis, the blood bank's CEO. "Blood donations go down during the holidays when families are traveling, and college students are on break."

Giselle's story triggered more than 324 donations by Dec. 4, 103 of those were first-time donors, according to the San Diego Blood Bank. It's likely her story triggered even more donations leading to a bump in donations during this time of year compared to the same time last year.

Those that would like to donate blood in Giselle's honor can use the code word GF19 upon registering with the San Diego Blood Bank. 

Giselle's future remains unclear, and the family said every day is filled with ups and downs as their tiny miracle baby fights for survival.

"She's just a little fighter, they refer to her as feisty in the NICU," said Angela Shirley, Giselle's grandma.

Courtney Almazan has yet to hold her daughter and spends a lot of time by her side, soothing her with a light, gentle touch.

"Her head is just perfectly formed. Her little tiny fingers and her toes, she grabs on to things already, she holds on to her breathing tube, she's amazing," Shirley said.


Giselle will remain at the hospital until March at the earliest.

But, despite all of the challenges, doctors recently gave the family some good news, saying they believe Giselle's chances of survival are "very high."

Giselle's family set up a GoFundMe account to help during this time.

While Sharp HealthCare greatly appreciates the influx of blood donation volunteers, those wishing to donate should contact San Diego Blood Bank directly.

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