Making an impact

A behind the scenes look at your donation for life
April 13, 2016

Guillermo Robles knew he could make a difference when he came to the GenCure tissue center as a tissue recovery team lead.

He had the training. He had the experience. He had the ability to communicate the technical requirements of the job. He jumped in and went right to work, sharing those skills with members of the team.

But until recently, he hadn’t fully realized the impact he had made.

He was at a tissue recovery, handling paperwork and bagging. Two of the techs were doing the actual collection, explaining their procedures to a new member of the team.

“I was at the back table, just watching,” Robles said. “I was surprised, because every time they said something, it was like I was hearing myself.

“That was a pretty nice feeling. My two technicians were teaching what I had taught them three or four months ago. That made me realize I was doing something good around here.”

Robles joined GenCure a year ago when the company acquired Allograft Resources from the University of Texas Health Science Center, bringing his experience in tissue collection, as well as his background as a surgical nurse.

But the move almost didn’t happen. As Allograft Resources was rolling into GenCure, Robles was preparing to accept another job offer. Then he heard from Jim Glick, tissue services director for GenCure.

“We knew Guillermo had extensive experience in tissue, and we knew about his background,” Glick said. “He was somebody we wanted to have as a team lead.”

Robles, who has a degree as a surgical specialist from the Universidad Tamaulipeca in Reynosa, Mexico, started working for Allograft Resources in the Rio Grande Valley. Three years ago, Allograft asked him to move to San Antonio to be a team leader.

And for the past year, he’s been a team leader for GenCure.

“I started doing changes here, training and educating people about surgery,” he said. “Little by little, it’s showing. My job here is to train, educate and improve the ways for tissue procurement.”

Tissue collection isn’t an easy job – he said it took him a week or more to overcome his first experience in recovering tissues, which with GenCure mainly involves bone, ligaments and tendons from deceased donors. Dealing with death can be stressful, as can the on-call schedule, which can take teams all over South Texas on short notice.

“You have to be strong-minded,” Robles said. “Once you start doing it, you realize you’re trained, you know what you’re doing.

“You always want to pay that respect. When you go to school, they teach you to take care of the person. And even though they have passed away, you still pay that respect.”

That approach is one of the things about the 27-year-old that impressed Glick.

“Guillermo brings a high level of professionalism to the job, and that’s the approach we want to take every day,” he said. “His approach and his experience rubs off on people, and he’s a good teacher.”

Robles’ surgical experience – he also worked in a kidney transplant center – is invaluable. Tissues are removed using surgical procedures, and they are replaced – “reconstructed” is the word Robles likes to use – with prosthetics. Handled with the proper care, those recovered tissues can help dozens of patients with everything from bone reconstruction to knee surgery.

“You remember that the tissue might be coming back to you,” he said. “You never know, five years down the road, you could break your ankle and you might need some kind of graft. You do the job like it’s for a family member.”

To learn more about tissue donation, visit our website here. Ready to become a tissue donor? Click here.