Meet Paul Mendoza, 50-year-old donor

My parents taught me the importance of being a blood donor early on in my life. It is the simplest and most valued gift we can give someone. We are healthy and should look out for those that need our help.

On one occasion in 1999 when I went to donate whole blood I learned about being a bone marrow donor. I didn't hesitate, I signed up. Fast forward 16yrs later and I finally received "the call" from the Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center. They explained to me that I was a possible match and they asked if I was still interested in donating. I felt so many emotions at the same time, I have never experienced such joy, sadness, hopefulness, I just started to tear up and thought of course I will do it. Someone needs my help and I would be giving someone a second chance to LIVE. It was an incredible feeling.

As things progressed with the blood work, physical and more blood work follow ups, I Iearned that the recipient was a little girl with Lymphoma. From that point on, I thought of her and her family and the beautiful life she will have ahead of her. My wife and I asked even more questions and learned all we could about what she may be going through and dealing with each day. I didn't know her name so my wife and I would refer to her as "Tina" when we would talk about her.

When I started the series of Filgrastim injections to build my white blood cell count, I couldn't believe how quickly it started to work. After just one injection I had mild flu like symptoms, the second was a slight loss of appetite, the third I regained my appetite and no flu like symptoms anymore but my lower back and shoulders started to ache, the fourth tightness in my chest, the fifth was the morning of the collection and I felt a little tired. During the entire time, my wife and I talked about what Tina could be dealing with and how her family must be full of emotions watching her. We gained strength by keeping our mind on the goal. To me, the five days of a little pain and discomfort is nothing compared to what she is going through to prepare for her procedure to be ready for the collection.

This has been an amazing journey and I wouldn't hesitate to donate again. If you are thinking about being a donor - don't think, just do! It will change your life and all those close to you.

Join us in September as we work to save lives in our Month to Match.

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