South Texas Blood & Tissue Center recognizes 90-gallon donor

Marcos Perez III kept up a three-decade habit at the South Texas Blood & Tissue Center last week, arriving on schedule to make his 720th donation.

And while reaching the 90-gallon mark was a milestone for one of the more notable donors in the center’s history, it certainly hasn’t been the only highlight for the native San Antonian.

Perez, 55, has been featured in public service announcements for the center. He has been recognized at multiple donation milestones. He even gained media exposure two years ago when he was featured on the local television news for reaching 80 gallons of blood product donations.

During his interview, he mentioned he had received a blood donation shortly after birth, and that the donor had been a friend of his father’s named Tony Aguilar.

The story was seen on affiliate stations from Philadelphia to Honolulu, but it didn’t need that much exposure to reach Aguilar. He still lived in San Antonio.

“He heard his name mentioned, and he told his wife ‘I think I’m that guy,’” Perez said. “He notified the blood bank, and I met the man who donated blood for me 53 years before.

“One donation – one donation – saved my life. And now here I am at 720.”

Several years ago, Perez switched from donating whole blood, which can be done once every eight weeks, to donating platelets, which can be done up to 24 times a year. The reason was simple, he said.

“I wanted to be able to help out more people,” Perez said. “There’s nothing to it – you just give from the heart.”

He schedules his donations on his day off from the U.S. Postal Service, where he is a letter carrier.

“I started right after I got out of the Air Force in 1983,” Perez said. “Donating blood has become a habit, a good habit.”