GUILDERLAND, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Jesse Saperstein didn’t exactly have it easy growing up.
“I have something called Asperger’s Syndrome, and it’s the mildest, but unfortunately, the most misunderstood and sometimes vilified form of Autsim,” he said.
As a young man, he was bullied and rejected, but one place that never turned him away was the local blood center.
“Donating blood is a passion of mine. It uplifted me when I was feeling weak. I could feel powerful that I saved someone’s life.”
The now 38-year-old from Guilderland overcame a lifetime of hurt and went on to become a published author and a motivational speaker. And when he heard about blood shortages due to the coronavirus pandemic, he rolled up his sleeve once again.
This time, he also created his own public service announcement encouraging others to do the same.
“A lot of people, during this virus, they just feel weak; they just feel like they have lost everything, and this is essentially true for those on the autism spectrum.”
As an advocate, he is helping to change the stigma of autism by challenging old beliefs about people on the spectrum.
His ultimate mission is to launch a National Convalescent Plasma drive with COVID-19 survivors so that their antibodies might be used to treat current patients.
Jesse does not believe he had the virus, but is asking those who did to donate and for others to offer much needed blood.
“Taking the very tiny risk that you may develop the coronavirus by going to the blood center. That’s probably the safest place you can be to make the difference and give the gift of life.”
He compares the virus to those bullies from his past, adding that we all have the power to do some things that fight back.