Marcos Perez has saved thousands of lives. But he didn’t do it all at once.
Rather, Perez has saved the lives of cancer patients, victims of car accidents and even babies who– like himself– were born prematurely and in desperate need of a blood transfusion over the course of more than three decades.
On Wednesday, Perez became just the fourth person in South Texas to pass the 100-gallon mark at the South Texas Blood & Tissue Center in San Antonio, a milestone marked with a large cake and gathering of friends, relatives, and blood bank staff.
“If you make time to go eat, you make time to go to the movies, you can make time to come donate,” he said while lying on a hospital bed, undergoing another of his bi-weekly donations.
It only takes about 10 minutes for someone to donate whole blood, but they have to wait two months in between donations. But in Perez’s case, he’s donating blood platelets. Each session, he’s hooked up to a machine that takes his blood, separates out the platelets, then returns the remaining red blood cells and plasma back to his body.
The whole process takes two hours each time he comes in, but donating platelets instead of whole blood allows him to donate more frequently.
The 57-year-old postal carrier is following the example set by his father’s friend and coworker in 1960 when Perez was born prematurely. He took the time to donate, he said, “and I’m here today because of him.”
Perez met that man, Tony Aguilar, for the first time in 2013, when he and the blood bank staff marked his 80-gallon milestone. That amount alone is estimated to have saved at least 2,000 lives.
“Mr. Perez is what you’d consider an All Star for the blood community here in South Texas,” said Roger Ruiz, a staff member at the blood center.
Watch the video below for more of Perez’s heart-warming story, and share!