By Joel Hillan

LITTLETON, Colo. (CBS4) – A mother in Littleton received 42 life-saving blood transfusions during two of her pregnancies.

Since then, donating blood has become a family tradition.

(credit: CBS)

Sam Belmonte, 16, couldn’t wait to be old enough to donate blood.

“My mom was a blood recipient when I was younger, and I just wanted to do it ever since I turned 16,” he said.

(credit: Belmonte family)

Sam’s mother, Kristin, suffered an amniotic fluid embolism during her second pregnancy.

“I have about 48 hours of memory loss so I remember my water breaking at home, and I woke up in the hospital two days later, and I asked my husband ‘Why are all these people in my bedroom?’”

Kristin Belmonte (credit: CBS)

Experts say 80 percent of women who suffer this type of embolism don’t survive.

“It was the point where the surgeon in the emergency room gave my husband my wedding ring and said ‘She’s probably not going to make it… prepare for the worst.’”

Kristin survived because she was able to get a blood transfusion.

(credit: CBS)

“Because someone took an hour out of their day to donate blood. It’s a selfless gift that you give to someone that can save their life,” she said.

The Belmonte family hosted annual blood drives in their home for eight years.

This spring, Sam helped organize a blood drive at his school, D’Evelyn Junior/Senior High School.

(credit: CBS)

“Just donate blood if you can. It’ll help somebody out somewhere,” he said.

Someone, like his mom.

“I’m living proof that donating blood saves lives,” she said. “There’s no substitute for blood. There’s no generic brand, no synthetic version. It has to come from humans and there’s a constant need for it.”

LINK: Bonfils Blood Center

Joel Hillan anchors CBS4 This Morning on weekends as well as reports stories for CBS4 News at 5 and 6 p.m. Follow Joel on Twitter @joelhillan.

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