Marcos Perez has helped thousands of lives by donating his platelets every two weeks for the past 37 years.
This tremendous act of kindness was inspired by the very transfusion that saved his life when he was born prematurely.
He’s been trying to pay it forward ever since.
“If someone was there for me, why can’t I be there for someone else?” Perez told Fox News.
That someone was his dad’s coworker, Tony Aguilar. He was the only one who “stepped up the plate” to help him in the 1960s, Perez said.
“Back then there was no blood bank,” he said. “My dad had to go around and ask his family members, my aunts and uncles, cousins, friends to go donate blood and only one man stepped up to the plate.”
As a result, Perez has been donating platelets since 1984, right when he became of age to do so. He said he’s been “hooked” ever since.
Ashley Frolick, communications specialist at South Texas Blood & Tissue Center, told Fox News that donors like Perez are vital because “the need for blood never ends.”
“Donors like Marcos that come in regularly make sure we have an adequate blood supply,” Frolick said. “It’s really that dedication that helps patients.”
Frolick said Perez has donated 962 times and, every time, his platelets help approximately three people. In total, that’s 2,888 lives he has touched, she said.
Platelet donors have to wait a week between each donation but they are able to donate up to 24 times a year, Frolick said.
On Thursday, Perez will be rewarded for hitting another milestone: donating 120 gallons of platelets to help save lives.
“It makes me feel great because I am living proof that blood donations do save lives,” Perez said. “If it wasn’t for that one donation I wouldn’t be here celebrating 962 donations.”
About seven years ago, Perez said he had the “honor of meeting the man that saved” his life.
Aguilar had reached out to the blood bank after seeing Perez thank his anonymous donor on TV once he hit 80 gallons of platelets donated.
Thanks to help from the blood bank, Aguilar and Perez were able to meet face to face.