AFE Survivor Gives Thanks and Gives Back

Every year on June 14th people around the globe celebrate World Blood Donor Day to thank the millions who selflessly give the gift of life through blood donation.

Severe blood loss due to disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC) is a hallmark symptom of an amniotic fluid embolism (AFE) and most patients will require copious amounts of blood and blood products to save their lives.

Today, in honor of World Blood Donor Day we share the remarkable story of AFE survivor, Emily Peters, and the impact blood donation has had on her life.

In Emily’s words.

“In a story that will be familiar to so many connected here with the AFE Foundation, I almost died in childbirth in August 2016. Very luckily, I was in California, so my doctor and hospital were set up with life-saving CMQCC (the AFE Foundation holds an Executive Board position) protocols for a deadly hemorrhage like mine. I went into DIC, where my blood no longer could clot just 15 minutes after Lucy was born. I was saved by receiving 32 units of blood, all the blood in my body 8 times over, in just six hours and an interventional radiology procedure to repair an artery.

Just over a year later, I stood in a conference room with family, my doctors, reporters and six of my actual blood donors. The blood bank helped me track down the people who saved my life so I could say thank you in person.

When I was preparing my speech for that day, I did some research on why saying thank you matters. Why we’re work so hard to teach our now-toddler Lucy how to say ‘thank you.’ How gratitude fits into my story. Functional MRI studies have shown that writing just one letter of thanks changes the your brain activity for three months or more. Gratitude has been measured to have a positive impact on blood pressure, sleep, anxiety and depression.

To me, saying thank you has been a powerful tool to process what happened. To see a situation where something really horrible and scary occurred, and to turn it into something good. I’ve become a spokesperson for the blood bank, talking about maternal health and the everyday heroism of blood donors. At Lucy’s first birthday party, friends signed thank you posters for the medical departments at the hospitals who treated me. It’s so wonderful to be part of the AFE Foundation community and research.

It took over a year to identify my blood donors and put together that special event to thank them in person. Each of them was a devoted donor, the kind of person who has given 200+ units of blood. We talked about how giving blood is a way of saying ‘thank you.’ I’ve now donated whole blood and plasma myself. My goal is to get to the 32 units I received and to keep going from there. It’s a way to be thankful, to appreciate my own miraculous good health, to help someone in crisis who I’ll probably never know, to keep doing the work of processing what happened into something good.

Of course, I’d love it if you donated blood, too. But there are a million ways to be grateful – you have your pick of them all. The most important thing is to just keep saying ‘thank you’ however you can.”

As Emily shares, there are many ways to give back and say thanks. Contact us for ways you can give back in a meaningful way.

Watch Emily’s Touching Story Here