Belmont donor Vicki Kemmerer was once a “California girl,” chasing fruit flies for a living as an agriculture expert in the vineyards of the Napa Valley. But her home base in the Miami Valley is where she chose to retire, and it’s where she made her “vintage” 100th lifetime blood donation Feb. 27 at the Dayton Community Blood Center.
“I knew it was coming,” she said of her milestone donation. “You never know about hemoglobin. It was too low the last time I tried. But I have something I can give to somebody.”
Vicki is a “universal donor” with blood type O negative, which any patient in need can receive. She’s also a CMV-negative donor, meaning she has not been exposed to the cytomegalovirus. Hospitals prefer CMV-negative units for children and especially newborns.
Vicki grew up in Kettering and moved to California as a teen. Her “Donor for Life” journey to 100 donations began at age 19 while attending College of the Desert in Cathedral City. “The first time I donated, I fainted!” she said.
She finished her degree in biology at San Francisco State University. She found herself on an unexpected career path when the Mediterranean fruit fly invaded California.
“They needed biologists,” she said. “It was my job to place traps, move them around, and catch fruit flies. It was so much fun! I got to be outdoors all the time.”
The job was my no means “fruitless.” She rose in the ranks to become Deputy Agricultural Commissioner in Napa County. She spent more than 20 years watchdogging the agricultural industry and enforcing environmental standards.
After retiring in 2010 she moved back home to care for her mother, who will be 87 in April. She has two daughters – one in California and the other in South Carolina – and two grandchildren.
“I loved the weather,” she said about the California life. “But when you first move there from Ohio you wonder ‘Where’s all the green?’ Everything seems brown. I like to have four seasons.”
Vicki stays busy with volunteer work. She’s the treasurer of the Centerville Citizens Police Academy Alumni Association and edits the newsletter for the Hadassah Dayton Chapter of the Women’s Zionist Organization of America.
She also plans to keep donating. “You can help someone else,” she said. “I might as well give it away!”