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San Jose Mother Holds Drive to Collect 41 Blood Donations

Northern California Blood Services Region

August 22, 2011


Ryan “RJ” Gemmet will celebrate his second birthday soon; and his mom plans to throw him a blood drive.

RJ doesn’t need blood, but during his birth, his mother, Christie Gemmet, suffered an Amniotic Fluid Embolism (AFE), a rare disease in which amniotic fluid or other debris enters the mother's blood stream via the placenta and triggers an allergic reaction which can be deadly.  She had to be transfused with 41 pints of blood as a result.  Now Christie is holding her second annual “birthday” blood drive – 41 for Me and My Son – with the American Red Cross on Saturday, Aug. 27.

“I believe I had angels watching over me that day because I beat the odds and survived an AFE,” Christie said.

It was Christie’s third pregnancy.  She did not have any complications with her first two births; and her pregnancy with RJ was normal.  But during labor, Christie suddenly couldn’t breathe.  The baby was also in distress; and doctors performed an emergency c-section.  RJ was fine, but as a result of the AFE, Christie began to hemorrhage uncontrollably.

Doctors performed a hysterectomy and transfused 41 units of blood/blood products into Christie’s body.  She survived despite all the complications she faced.

“I have been a regular blood donor since high school, and I never imagined that I would be on the receiving end of needing blood transfusions to save my own life,” Christie said.  “This experience reminded me of how precious life is and to be grateful for each day we have here with our families.”

One way Christie is showing her gratitude for the blood she received is by hosting an annual blood drive in San Jose.  She knows the importance of donating blood; and it’s her way of doing her part to help ensure the community blood supply is in good shape.

“Without having the 41 units of blood, I would have not survived and my children would have to grow up without their mother,” Christie said.

There are many reasons mothers and newborns can need blood during or after birth.  Christie learned from her doctors that it was likely that her amniotic fluid mixed with her blood and caused an allergic and life-threatening reaction. 

“Every day the Red Cross provides blood to Bay Area hospitals to help patients during difficult births, cancer treatments as well as scheduled and emergency surgeries,” said Sara O’Brien, American Red Cross Northern California Blood Services Region spokesperson.  “It’s very difficult to get people to donate blood on a Saturday during the summer, but we hope that Christie’s story highlights the importance of blood donation.”

This year’s 41 for Me and My Son blood drive features a number of goodies for those who come to donate.  Not only will the donors receive the customary refreshments (cookies and juice), but the Red Cross will also give all presenting donors at the drive two coupons – one for a free pint of Baskin-Robbins® ice cream and another for six free pieces of chocolate dipped fruit from Edible Arrangements®.

Who: American Red Cross and the Gemmet Family

What: 41 for Me and My Son Blood Drive

Where: Almaden Community Center, 6445 Camden Avenue in San Jose

When: Saturday, Aug. 27 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Why: In honor of blood recipient Christie Gemmet and her son, RJ.  To make an appointment to donate blood at the Aug. 27 drive, call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767). Walk-ins are also welcome. 


Almaden Community Center
6445 Camden Avenue
San Jose, CA, 95120
United States
37° 13' 18.2208" N, 121° 52' 6.906" W
See map: Google Maps