SAN ANTONIO — A young survivor from the Uvalde school shooting met some of the people who helped save her life on Saturday during an event celebrating the South Texas Blood and Tissue Center’s Heroes in Arms program.
Mayah Zamora rocked confidently in her chair as she took questions from reporters.
"I always say always live your dream because you never know when life is gonna end," Mayah said.
Wise words from a ten-year-old who has been through so much.
"You would not know meeting her that she is the survivor of unthinkable violence perpetrated on the most innocent," said Adrienne Mendoza, Chief Operating Officer for the South Texas Blood & Tissue Center.
Blood donations helped Mayah survive the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School.
“It was the blood given by generous donors in the days ahead of Uvalde that was ready for Mayah that tragic day,” Mendoza said.
One of three people whose donations helped save Mayah’s life was 17-year-old Adrianna Garcia, whose donation at a Poteet High School blood drive was her very first.
"She's pretty cool," said Mayah.
"Pretty cool?” said Garcia, who was sitting next to her.
“She's pretty cool, too," she said.
The four of them met for the first time Saturday at a South Texas Blood & Tissue Center event for the “Heroes in Arms” program, which provides whole blood to emergency responders. The event both celebrated the “Brothers in Arms,” program’s fifth anniversary and re-launched it under the new name since it will now also seek donations from women.
“What we’re seeing here today is living proof that this program makes a difference,” said Dr. Ronald M. Stewart, a surgeon at University Health’s Level I trauma center.
Stewart told Mayah’s parents, Christina and Ruben Zamora, that she survived the helicopter trip to University Hospital’s trauma center because of blood transfusions. They’ve become advocates for blood donations, with Ruben committing to push past his fear of needles to give blood himself.
“His biggest fear are needles and dogs,” Mayah said of her dad. “Like, who's scared of dogs?”
“I'm terrified, but it helps to save a life,” Ruben said. "I'm gonna do it."
Flight Paramedics Wayne Winen and Leo Torres recounted a great deal of cooperation in the hospital in Uvalde, but noted specifically the impact donations had.
"Everybody was on point. As far as the team," Winen said.
"Without the donors, I mean, we wouldn't have that blood to keep her stable," Torres added.
Winen and Torres were sent to Uvalde primarily to deliver donor blood from STBTC, but decided to stay close by and assist how they could.
“We figured you know that we were going to be mobilized fairly soon after,” Winen said.
The pair transported Mayah from Uvalde to University Hospital in San Antonio. The flight took 30 minutes, but Winen said it felt more like five.
“Mayah, you made us work,” Winen told Mayah. "It was a busy busy 30 minutes."
“So incredible to see today," he added.
It was by chance that Mayah was their patient and by chance that she received a blood donation from Garcia, since it was her first-time donating blood.
“I'm very like glad that she's alive, especially because of me and all the other donors here today,” said Garcia. "First time giving blood. It's crazy."
That was a point that Mayah wanted to drive home.
"Every time a new person gives blood. You never know who's gonna get it," she said.
For more information, donors can call (210) 731-5590 or visit SouthTexasBlood.org.