SAN ANTONIO -- The South Texas Blood and Tissue Center teamed up with Big Lou's Pizza to host a blood drive and their goal this year: Raise 300 units of blood.
The donation drive was held at the pizzeria on 2048 South W.W. White Road. There were eight buses and more than 32 personnel to help at the annual event. Eyewitness News talked to one donor who described the process as quick and painless.
"I did have friends that needed blood infusions when I was in Iraq. I'm a two-time veteran. So, I understand the importance of it," donor John Baylor said.
Brian Lujan, the pizzeria's owner, has helped host multiple blood drives in the last five years. He even organized a separate event during Hurricane Harvey and the center raised 250 units of blood. Lujan knows the kind of impact blood donations have on people from his own life. His father had aplastic anemia, a rare condition in which the body stops producing new blood cells.
"One doctor said let me try this. And with the help of the transfusions, for 5 years it kept him alive. So I mean, the blood was just important to his everyday existence," Lujan said.
Roger Ruiz, the center's corporate communications specialist, said the donation drive is also happening at a crucial time.
"We saw probably four to five hundred units that could have been potentially donated, lost because of the weather. We saw cancellations of blood drives. Our donors who had scheduled didn't come in because of the weather," said Ruiz.
"At the end it matters about helping each other out and trying to impact someone's life in a positive way," Lujan said.
Every donor walked away with a free 20 inch pizza, a glass, a commemorative Big Lou's t-shirt and a movie pass from City Base Cinema. The center also had another tent set up for a bone marrow drive to help SAPD officer Roland Perez who's been with the police department for 20 years. He has been battling myelodysplastic syndrome. It's a disorder where a body cannot properly produce blood cells. Perez's family said the only cure is a bone marrow transplant.