28th Annual Pint for Pint Blood Drive is hours away

VISALIA, Calif. (KFSN) -- 28th Annual Pint for Pint Blood Drive begins Friday. People across the Valley will come together to donate a pint of blood and receive a pint of Baskin-Robbins ice cream.

Marco Vaca is happy to be celebrating his two year heart birthday.

Marco said, "It went from a regular heart best to 22 percent."

The Visalia native had a transplant at Stanford two years ago, but his health troubles began not too long after he was born. Marco battled leukemia as a kid and was in remission for nearly 20 years, when the EMT and Tulare County fire volunteer had a heart attack and found his heart had major damage.

"It was kind of sad that I had to end it that way," said Marco.

Marco was eventually transferred to Stanford and got a phone call that saved his life. He had an eight hour transplant surgery.

"It flatlined, so they had to go back in and take out the heart, massage it and put it back in," said Marco. "And from there it took my second chance, second chance at life."

Marco was in a coma for two weeks after that and had to relearn to walk and talk. During the surgery, he lost a lot of blood. To pay those donors forward, he hosted a blood drive in Visalia with fellow firefighters and EMTs. A lifesaving gift, he will never forget.

"I thank pretty much everybody for donating blood," said Marco. "I tell people say hey donate blood because you never know there may come a day that you need it."

Now the Valley has a chance to help others like Marco. The event kicks off Friday and runs through Saturday.

You can donate at one of five locations in Fresno, Visalia or the Sierra Vista Mall in Clovis.
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