Blood drive held in honor of owner of Fresno pizza parlor

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Jose David Salinas has been serving up pizzas for years but, lately, has been seriously sick. (KFSN)

A Fresno pizza shop owner is the inspiration behind a blood drive that could save several lives this weekend.

Jose David Salinas is best known for spinning dough and slinging pizzas, all the way up to the Fast Eddie's Pizza favorite -- the 28-inch Big Ed.

"He's a very down-to-earth guy," blood donor Courtney Salinas said. "He's the type to always give his shirt off his back for somebody. He always helps the homeless people who are out there."

But, right now, Jose can't even eat pizza and he may soon be the one in need. His kidney function is down to about 18 percent so he has to avoid salt and dairy, and he'll probably need an organ transplant before long. Life for him has started to pass by pretty fast.

"A lot of changes," David Salinas with the shop said. "Changes your way of eating, the way I look at life. It's just, it catches you by surprise."

That's part of the reason he and his family organized a blood drive this weekend. Salinas will eventually need a blood transfusion when he gets a transplant, so blood will help save his life. But as dozens of his friends and relatives donate, they know he won't be the one receiving it.

Their blood will go to save other lives instead, and they hope to put a spotlight on how important donations are.

"Honestly, if you could save a life," said Casey Rusca, who donated blood. "I guess there's not really much thought to goes into it."

Rusca gave blood Saturday, but she may wind up donating something even more important for Salinas. Her blood type matches his, so she's checking whether she'd be a suitable kidney donor for her brother-in-law. The blood drive also serves as a message to the three Salinas kids about fighting to survive.

"There's no giving up," Courtney said. "There's always things that'll happen in this life and we're going to show our kids that we're going to keep on going."

And their donations will help others keep on going as well.
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