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St. Louis woman who nearly lost her life giving birth shares why you need to donate blood

If the national blood shortage happened two years ago, Courtney Johnson wouldn't have survived through a rare birth complication that required 65 units of blood.

ST. LOUIS — The blood crisis continues to get worse across the country. The American Red Cross is in desperate need of blood donations.

It is experiencing the worse shortage in over a decade. Courtney Johnson said if this was happening two years ago, she wouldn't be alive.

"I wouldn't be here without the amount of blood that was required to save my life. I wouldn't be here if that would've happened a few months from when I first delivered R.J." Johnson said.

Two years ago, Courtney Johnson almost lost her life giving birth to her son R.J.

"I would go on to experience what was called an amniotic fluid embolism, which is very rare. It's one in every 40,000 deliveries, pregnancies and only 50% of those will survive," she said.

It's a birth complication when your body flushes your blood as a reaction to the amniotic fluid entering the bloodstream.

"They couldn't keep the blood coming in to save my life as fast as I was losing it, and when it was coming out, it was coming out as water," Johnson said.

Johnson's doctors had about an hour to save her life with blood transfusions. 

Missouri Baptist Medical Center expert Dr. Rhonda Cooke oversees their available blood products.

"We feel very comfortable when we have 150-200 units of blood on the shelf and available to us," Cooke said.

During this blood shortage, they're seeing half of what they normally stock. In Courtney's case, well under what she needed.

"She used more than 60 blood components when the doctors were resuscitating her and that's just in the matter of a few hours," Cooke said.

"I would take out the entire blood type in the blood bank at that night," Johnson said.

"If a situation like that happened today. I'm not sure I'd have enough blood products," Cooke said.

Two years later, Johnson is a strong wife and mother of two and organized a blood drive to give back what she used.

"It is so vital to have blood on hand, so we need to have the donations here in St. Louis," Johnson said.

 Back in July, Johnson and her husband's partners with Advanced Training and Rehab hosted a blood drive with Missouri Baptist Medical Center and the Red Cross.

If you would like to sign up to donate blood, click here.

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