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San Diego Woman Steadied By Obama After Almost Fainting

Woman Faints During Obama Press Conference

Above: Karmel Allison of San Diego was steadied by President Barack Obama after nearly fainting during his press conference on the Affordable Care Act.

Aired 10/22/13 on KPBS News.

A San Diego woman made national news Monday when she was steadied by President Barack Obama after nearly fainting during his press conference on the Affordable Care Act.

A San Diego woman made national news Monday when she was steadied by President Barack Obama after nearly fainting during his press conference on the Affordable Care Act

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Karmel Allison, a bioinformatics graduate student at UC San Diego, was standing behind the president as he talked about problems with the website www.healthcare.gov that allows people to shop for health care plans.

Allison has Type 1 diabetes and is just under five months pregnant, and told KPBS she didn't drink much water before the press conference because she didn't want to need to use the bathroom.

"I think I got a little lightheaded and I started to see stars and I thought 'uh oh, this is bad,'" she said. "I started hoping that this would go away, but next thing I knew, I was being held by the president and he was telling me I was going to be ok and I realized, 'oh no, that just happened.'"

Obama stopped his speech and turned to steady her, saying "I gotcha," and "you're ok."

He then joked, "this happens when I talk too long."

The president checked on Allison after the conference ended, she said.

"He made sure I was OK, which I was very thankful about, as well as for the initial catch," she said. "So thank you Barack!"

Allison was invited to attend the press conference after she wrote a blog post praising the Affordable Care Act.

"I've been a Type 1 diabetic since I was 9 years old and since that time I've been covered under a single plan, but I've always had a fear around the fact that I can't leave that plan if I needed to move out of California, if I needed to take a different plan or if the cost got so much that I couldn't afford this plan anymore, I wouldn't have any other option," she said.

She said when she logged on to www.healthcare.gov, which has been criticized for its technical problems, she was only asked a few questions, none of which had to do with her diabetes.

"The fact that it was such a simple little form was incredibly meaningful to me and it was just so liberating in the sense that the system was blind to the fact that I had this preexisting condition and that felt incredible," she said.

Allison said she is feeling better, aside from being "very embarrassed" and overwhelmed by the media attention.

"But I was absolutely honored to have been there, to be part of such a big moment in history," she said.

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