San Antonio’s 120-gallon-plus blood donors encourage others to give

All-star trio has given 372 gallons through the years at the South Texas Blood & Tissue Center – and they’re still donating

San Antonio, Texas, UNITED STATES


San Antonio, Texas, March 19, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Every blood donor has a story about why they started giving, and the three blood donation superstars who recently gathered at the South Texas Blood & Tissue Center to encourage others to donate are no exception.

Ron White, Marcos Perez and Gerald Perkins were honored as blood donation all-stars at a thank-you event at the center’s Donor Pavilion.

White, who started giving at the age of 17, has donated 131 gallons. Perkins, who first gave blood in 1950, is at 121 gallons just at the South Texas Blood & Tissue Center. Perez was featured in news reports around the world recently after reaching 120 gallons. All three have donated a combination of whole blood and platelets.

“It’s not every day you get to meet true heroes, but these three men are true heroes,” said Adrienne Mendoza, Vice President for Blood Operations at the center, which is a subsidiary of San Antonio-based nonprofit BioBridge Global.

All three all-star donors encouraged the community to follow their lead, especially as the blood supply is battered by canceled blood drives during the COVID-19 pandemic and growing needs from the 100 hospitals and clinics the center serves in Texas. Platelet donors can give every two weeks, up to 24 times a year, and whole blood donors can give every 56 days.

“If people in this town can back the Spurs, they can back the blood bank, too,” said Perez. “They need to pay it forward – one donation saved my life, and that means thousands of people are alive today.”

Perez, who was born prematurely, received a transfusion as a baby. When he became eligible, he started giving platelets on a regular basis at the South Texas Blood & Tissue Center. He visits every two weeks, and even after his recent retirement from the U.S. Postal Service, he plans to keep donating.

White first gave blood as a teenager, but he began regularly donating platelets after meeting a girl at his church who needed blood as she struggled with leukemia. He hadn’t seen her in nearly 15 years – until the all-star donation event, where she came to thank him in person.

“It’s because of donors like you that I’m here today,” said Arden Cantwell, who now is in college.

White, who like Perez is retired, also makes regular platelet donations. He doesn’t mind forcefully encouraging people to donate as well.

“People ask me why I donate all the time,” he said. “I say, ‘Why in the hell don’t you donate, too?’”

Perkins, who at 90 is one of the center’s oldest regular donors, started giving when a blood drive came to the International Harvester factory in Fort Wayne, Indiana, in 1950, when he was 20 years old.

“They told me you didn’t have to do any heavy lifting the rest of the day if you gave blood,” Perkins said with a chuckle. “Sounded good to me.”

Perkins, who was drafted soon after his first donation and then made the U.S. Army a 30-year career, worked hard to find places to give blood while in the service.

“When I was stationed in Hawaii, they didn’t collect blood at the base,” he said. “I had to take a bus to the blood center in Honolulu to donate.”

Perkins also found ways to give while stationed at Heidelberg, Germany, Washington, D.C., and other places he said he just can’t remember anymore. None of those donations count toward his total of 121 gallons at the South Texas Blood & Tissue Center.

His final assignment was at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, where he started donating at the base’s blood center. He began giving at the local blood center – which opened in 1974 – when he retired from the military in the 1980s.

“It’s a wonderful way to be able to help people,” he said.

At the end of the thank-you event, which featured a stack of five-gallon buckets representing the 372 gallons the men have given at the center, all three walked to the nearby donor room and added to their totals.

“It’s the least we can do,” White said.

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About the South Texas Blood & Tissue Center: The South Texas Blood & Tissue Center (STBTC) is a nonprofit community blood center that provides blood, plasma, platelets and other blood components to 100 hospitals in 48 South Texas counties. It is the largest blood supplier in our region. In addition, it recovers and distributes donated human tissue for transplant. STBTC has a 45-year history serving the South Texas community. It is part of the BioBridge Global family of nonprofit organizations, which offers services in regenerative medicine and research including blood banking and resource management; cellular therapy; umbilical cord blood collection and storage; donated human tissue recovery and distribution for transplant; and testing of blood and plasma products to help patients in the United States and worldwide. STBTC has seven donor rooms in South Texas and conducts hundreds of mobile blood drives each year. STBTC is online at SouthTexasBlood.org.

 

About BioBridge Global: BioBridge Global (BBG) is a San Antonio, Texas-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit regenerative medicine enterprise that offers diverse services through its subsidiaries – the South Texas Blood & Tissue Center, QualTex Laboratories, GenCure and The Blood & Tissue Center Foundation. BBG provides products and services in blood resource management, cellular therapy, donated umbilical cord blood and human tissue as well as testing of blood, plasma and tissue products for clients in the United States and worldwide. BBG is committed to saving and enhancing lives through the healing power of human cells and tissue. It enables advances in the field of regenerative medicine by providing access to human cells and tissue, testing services and biomanufacturing and clinical trials support. Learn more at BioBridgeGlobal.org.

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The South Texas Blood & Tissue Center's 'all-star' blood donors (from left) Ron White. Marcos Perez and Gerald Perkins, were recognized for donating 372 gallons of blood and platelets at an event at the South Texas Blood & Tissue Center's Donor Pavilion on Thursday, March 18. The stack of five-gallon buckets represent the 372 gallons of donations made by White (131 gallons), Perkins (121 gallons) and Perez (120 gallons). Marcos Perez makes a platelets donation on Thursday, March 18, following the event recognizing three 'all-star' blood donors with the South Texas Blood & Tissue Center. Perez was recognized for donating 120 gallons of blood and platelets, while Ron White was honored for giving 131 gallons and Gerald Perkins was recognized for giving 121 gallons.

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