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Board hears about fruits of their labors

During their November meeting, members of The Foundation board of directors heard from Adrienne Mendoza, Chief Operating Officer, South Texas Blood & Tissue, on the impact of two major Foundation initiatives.

The year began with the opening of the new Boerne donor center, followed by a second in Bulverde. The Foundation helped with funding for the centers, which are located in two of the fastest-growing counties in the nation.

Both centers got off to strong starts, with 202 donors in Boerne the first month and 246 in Bulverde. The centers now are producing more than 700 units per month above previous levels.  

High donation numbers and return rates reveal a strong sense of community by donors at the new centers. Boerne is averaging 400 units per month and Bulverde 300 units per month, Mendoza said. 

She thanked the board for their support at this year’s Red & White Ball, which provided funding for new Alyx blood collection devices that already are making a significant impact on ongoing shortage of type O blood. 

“In our community, one thing we have seen is the number of O units needed per day has increased both this year and last year, with a growth of 16% this year alone,” Mendoza said. “This growth is attributed in part to new procedures in hospitals, like kidney and liver transplants.” 

Martin Landon, Chief Executive Officer of BioBridge Global, said 55-60% of the demand is for O type blood, with 40% of our donor population being type O.  

In the first quarter of 2021, South Texas Blood & Tissue provided 620 units of blood per month that were converted to a double donation. The introduction of the Alyx machines has increased that number to 1,600, and growth continued in the second and third quarters. 

A double red cell donation is an automated procedure that allows for the collection of two units of red cells at once. The time frame between donations is twice that of a whole blood donation, 16 weeks.  

The significance of the Alyx machine is that since usually donors don’t come back in eight weeks, collecting a double-red-cell donation provides the equivalent of a second donation without the second trip. 

“It’s more convenient, fast, more comfortable with a smaller needle for the donor, thanks to the Alyx and The Foundation’s hard work,” Mendoza said. “Due to this increase in satisfaction from donor experience, we are also seeing an upward trend in return donors when they are eligible again.” 

November 2022 Board Member Profile

Nicole and C.J. Czelusta 

What part of the organization and mission speaks most to you and why? 

There are so many aspects of our Foundation’s mission that have touched our lives both personally and professionally. My husband C.J. works in a community health clinic with many underfunded patients and has seen first-hand the lifesaving power of blood and blood products. My journey with South Texas Blood & Tissue began in high school. 

In October, 25 years ago, my mom, my brother, and several friends were in a tragic car accident. My best friend Jessica Wellisch was an advocate for blood and tissue donation – she had introduced me to the cause. Sadly, she and my brother and my mom all passed. To help cope with the immense sorrow, grief and helplessness I felt, I decided to focus on what I could do, and that was bring awareness to blood donation by helping host blood drives at my high school. I became an advocate for blood, organ and tissue donation because of this experience and felt a strong call to help educate other young people on the topic.  

It was because of this experience that I felt called to the nursing profession. After finishing nursing school and working in the pediatric ICU, I gained more experience with blood and tissue donation from a completely different perspective. I saw how meaningful and lifesaving it was for families and patients to receive and to donate. I spent extra time learning about organ and tissue donation through professional development activities offered at my hospital. Thinking that, I now had a full appreciation for the impact blood and tissue donation has on lives, I felt confident speaking to that. Little did I know that life had another perspective it wanted me to have – being the recipient of a blood transfusion. 

In 2015 we were blessed with the news that I was pregnant with twin girls. My pregnancy was uneventful and healthy, I carried them to 38 weeks. During the delivery I began to hemorrhage. I passed out on the OR table, unable to respond despite hearing and feeling all the medical professionals attempts to revive me. My husband was at my side and suddenly the best day, the day we had been waiting for so long, became a nightmare. I don’t know how long I was out. t felt like a very long time although I suspect it wasn’t.

The first thing I remember after regaining consciousness was the team saying, “first bag of blood is in.” That blood transfusion literally brought me back to life so I could be the wife and mother that I always wanted to be. The person(s) who donated that blood will never know that it was MY life they saved. I didn’t go into the hospital that morning thinking I would need blood, and yet by midday there I was, depending on someone else’s blood to save my life.

We never know the path our life will take, nor why we have certain experiences in our life. With the benefit of hindsight, I feel all of these life experiences were leading me to be a strong advocate for blood and tissue donation. I am honored and happy to be able to tell my story and use my life experiences to encourage others to donate blood and bring awareness to such an important mission.  

My husband and I truly believe that not only does blood donation save lives, but that the innovation that is taking place among all the subsidiaries of our organization in technology, process improvement, and coordination among public and private partners is increasing the quality and length of life for so many people in our community. 

What do you like to do?  

I love being a nurse and am passionate about education. I am curious about science and research and how it is used to improve patient care and inform clinical decision making. I also love to spend time really connecting with people and learning from them.  

When not working at his very busy primary care practice, C.J. is an avid MLS and Premier League soccer fan, NBYSA volunteer coach for our kids, and also is a professional referee with the local San Antonio chapter. He also enjoys running, cycling, Formula 1 racing, beer brewing and teaching our kids German and Spanish. He is passionate about sports, medicine and education and truly loves when they intersect. 

My husband and I have 3 young children, twin girls that are 7 years old and a little boy who is 5 years old, so we stay very busy with them. We enjoy traveling and exploring different parts of the US and have even braved some international travel with little ones! Since we live in New Braunfels on the river we are often kayaking or enjoying some of our favorite local breweries or biergartens. 

What motivates you?   

My passion for learning and helping people and my desire to leave the small space of the world that I inhabit better than I found it.  

Is there anything about your time on the board you would like to share? Most cherished moments, greatest accomplishments, something you are looking forward to? 

We have really enjoyed getting to know many of the wonderful people who serve on this board and their stories of why they serve. We are so honored to be a part of such an extraordinary group of people and feel our collective commitment and passion for the cause every time we gather. We are really looking forward to advancing our mission and promoting awareness of our work not only in Bexar County but in the surrounding counties that we serve.  

Double Your Impact Campaign 

Thank you for your continued support of our efforts to make blood available to patients in need. The holidays are always difficult for the blood supply; this year, shortages are being felt across the country. We are asking for your support by sharing the following information with your network. 

South Texas Blood & Tissue and the San Antonio Food Bank are teaming up on a way to help blood donors multiply their good deeds during the holiday season. Blood donors have a unique opportunity to save lives AND feed the need this holiday season through the “Double Your Impact” initiative. The initiative will allow blood donors to donate any of their South Texas Blood & Tissue Reward Store points to the San Antonio Food Bank through a link at the online Reward Store – with every 100 points donated equaling 25 meals for families in need. The donation of points can be made any time before Dec. 31.    

“The Double Your Impact initiative is a way for us to replenish our blood supply and help fight hunger at the same time,” said Jay Podjenski, Director of Strategic Initiatives and Community Development, South Texas Blood & Tissue.  

To learn more about the Double Your Impact initiative visit 

To schedule a donation visit: Call 210-731-5590 or Visit

Same-day appointments are available at the center’s nine donor rooms in San Antonio, New Braunfels, Boerne, Bulverde and Victoria, as well as at community blood drives.  

You can help by encouraging others to schedule a donation as soon as possible and by sharing the link and social posts below with your network on social media. 

Social Media 

Major gifts update – November 2022

From Clay Howell, Director, Development, The Blood & Tissue Center Foundation

The fall winds bring interesting gifts, starting with the generous support of this year’s Red & White Ball and 20th Anniversary campaign led by the Allie and Danny Kustoff and the Beldon Family. It was a tremendous event and campaign, resulting in one of the most successful awareness-builders and fundraisers in the 20 years of The Foundation.  All made possible by members of our board of directors.  Thank you! 

We also owe a debt of gratitude to a number of philanthropists in our community who have taken interest in our lifesaving mission.  Representing a broad spectrum of support for blood donor recruitment and appreciation, new blood collection equipment, the Texas Cord Blood Bank, and a new bloodmobile, I invite you to join us in thanking H-E-B, The Edouard Foundation with a special thanks to Ron and Valerie Finch for their cultivation of this gift, Shelby Rae Tengg Foundation, and the M.G. and Lillie A. Johnson Foundation in Victoria.

The Johnson Foundation gift supporting a new next-generation bloodmobile is an investment in our ability to expand mobile blood drives in and around Victoria.  Their gift represents one of the largest received since the founding of The Foundation in 2002.  This bloodmobile will join ranks with our most recent additions mid-COVID pandemic, The Yellow Rose, courtesy of the Olsen Family, and 2019 Red & White Ball coach. 

Major gift donations are a critical component to funding programs across BioBridge Global, but they are not the only means of support. Many of our board of directors also participate in the annual Valero Texas Open Champions fore Charity and Big Give SA campaigns helping raise awareness and much-needed funds.  Again, thank you!   

Charitable fund development is an ever-evolving space, and you can count on your Foundation to evolve too.  That said, on a special note, I’d like to recognize a colleague here at BioBridge Global who has made a planned gift to The Foundation.  Using his company life insurance policy, Ken D. has allotted a percentage of his policy to The Foundation in the event the policy is executed.  We wish Ken a long and prosperous life and our sincerest appreciation for this creative thinking that can have a lasting impact on our mission.

A gift in one’s will, trust, retirement account or life insurance policy can leave a lasting legacy of impact and be the next groundwork for 20 more years’ service to our South Texas community.  

The year is not over just yet.  In the next two months, we will be working with prospective donors on the $1.5 million in gift requests outstanding, with some confidence we shall see several grants awarded. How exciting! 

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