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Uvalde shooting survivor meets blood donors who saved her life

Meeting also marks South Texas Blood & Tissue’s fifth anniversary of program designed to boost trauma survival

A 10-year-old survivor of the Uvalde school shooting thanked her life-savers – her blood donors. The meeting also highlights a major milestone for South Texas Blood & Tissue’s lifesaving whole-blood donor program. 

‘Forever grateful’

Christina and Ruben Zamora have met and thanked emergency medical technicians to trauma surgeons involved in the care of their daughter Mayah, who was injured in the shooting at Robb Elementary School in May 2022. 

But Saturday, Jan. 28, was the first time they met those whose blood donations were used in Mayah’s emergency treatment. 

“We’re forever grateful to the people who saved my life, and I hope my story will let people know how important donating blood is to saving lives.” 

Mayah Zamora, 10-year-old survivor of the Uvalde school shooting

Among the donors was 17-year-old Adrianna Garcia, who donated for the first time at a drive at Poteet High School. Mayah and her family also met donors Larry Whatley, who has been giving blood since 1976, and Sylvia Enriquez. 

Mayah Zamora meets one of her blood donors, 17-year-old Adrianna Garcia.

“A blood donation is usually a gift to someone you will never meet or never know,” said Adrienne Mendoza, Chief Operating Officer, South Texas Blood & Tissue. “Today we have that great and unique honor of making that connection.”

Making a difference

On the day of the Uvalde tragedy, South Texas Blood & Tissue had specially screened blood from its Heroes in Arms program ready for use by emergency responders. As soon as the organization was alerted to the need, this lifesaving resource was provided to air medical helicopters to be used at the scene.

Mayah received an emergency blood transfusion while in transport to the hospital. She also received O-negative blood, which is given in many cases to pediatric patients. 

Dr. Ronald M. Stewart (right), a surgeon at University Health’s Level I trauma center and Chair of the Department of Surgery at UT Health San Antonio and blood donor, Adrianna Garcia.

“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 and Chair of the Department of Surgery at UT Health San Antonio.  

Learn more about the Heroes in Arms program

Encouraging blood donations

Stewart told Mayah’s parents that she survived the helicopter trip to University Hospital’s trauma center because of blood transfusions. As a result, they have become strong advocates for blood donation. 

Christina (center) and Ruben Zamora (right) advocate for blood donation, sharing how it saved their daughter Mayah’s (left) life.

“You’ve got to make something good out of something so bad,” Christina Zamora said. “This is something that is part of the good that she can do.” 

Ruben Zamora encouraged people across South Texas to donate. 

“I’m going to be the second one in my family to give blood, and I’m terrified, but Mayah said she would hold my hand,” he said. 

Realizing the need

Mendoza highlighted the need for blood at all times. 

“Mayah’s story, for us, is a powerful symbol of the need for all kinds of donors and the need for donors to continue to give blood. We hope people realize the need.”

Adrienne Mendoza, Chief Operating Officer, South Texas Blood & Tissue

“It was the blood given by generous donors in the days ahead of Uvalde that was ready for Mayah that tragic day. By becoming a regular blood donor and giving four times a year, you’ll help our community be ready at any time for any tragedy or need.”  

Are you an O-positive donor who’d like to join Heroes in Arms? Contact us today at 210-731-5590  to find out if you are eligible.  

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