Man on four-wheeler
By Brianna Wilson and Tom Szymanski

A Second Chance at Life: The Miracle Behind Blood Drive at SRMC

Brenda Murray is no stranger to witnessing the many emergencies that bring patients through hospital doors. It is part of her job as the director of environmental services at The University of New Mexico Sandoval Regional Medical Center (SRMC). But nothing in her work could have prepared her for the day she received a phone call about her son.

It was September of 2023. Her youngest son, 24-year-old Joey Vigil, was in a four-wheeler accident and was being transported by ambulance to UNM Hospital. 

Murray said she did not realize how serious the accident was until she got to the emergency room. He was fighting for his life.


“He went off a cliff and nose-dived into a cement arroyo,” she said. “When he went down, the handlebars actually clipped his midsection. He had internal bleeding, and they were not able to stabilize him in the ER. They took him up to the operating room immediately.”

Murray said Vigil suffered a grade five liver laceration, and doctors promptly removed 30-percent of his organ. After surgery, a CT scan revealed more damage to a major artery that connects to the bottom of Vigil’s heart. His next surgery was a bypass.

“My son was on mass blood transfusion protocol, and throughout the course of his stay, he went through 74 blood product transfusions,” Murray said. “I remember just saying to myself, ‘I am going to donate blood.’ Somebody took time out of their day, their life. These are people that I do not know, I will never know, and that transfusion—it saved my son's life.”

Two multiple-week hospital stays, six surgeries and seven long months later, Vigil is fully recovered. Murray said there were many scary moments when she was not sure her son would pull through. She attributed his miraculous improvement to the prayers of family members and the dedicated trauma team at UNM Hospital.

“It made me very grateful, on a different level, to be on the other side of the table and actually be a family member of a patient,” Murray said.

When she returned to work, after taking months of leave to care for Vigil, Murray said she never forgot the silent promise she made to herself at her son’s bedside. That is why she pooled her connections and resources at SRMC. With the help of her hospital colleagues and Vitalant, Murray planned her own blood drive.

UNM SRMC Blood Drive

When: Friday, April 19th 11 am-4 pm
Where: Center of Excellence, 1st Floor Large Classroom 3200 Broadmoor Blvd NE Rio Rancho, 87144
Walk-ins Welcome

Register Here

Murray hopes for at least 74 donations, the exact amount that saved her son’s life and could potentially save others. She said she and several of her family members plan to donate blood at the event, including a recently-healed Vigil.

“I think he's excited about it,” she said. “It gives Joey, myself and our family a way to give back, and to say thank you for all of the transfusions and care that he had.”

Kenneth Spart, MSN, APRN, FNP-C, CCRN, said he will also make a donation. The nurse practitioner at UNM Hospital was one of Vigil’s favorite care providers through his months-long treatment.


“I do not wish it on anyone, but Joey is an example of someone who may not have had the same positive outcome that we see, had we not had access to the volume of donor blood that he needed,” Spart said.

Spart reflected on the moment he saw a fully healed Vigil for the first time, when he returned to the hospital for a quick visit. 

“He looked normal, uninjured, not limping, he had gone back to work, looked like he looks every day,” Spart explained. “That was a very rewarding moment.”

Murray said Vigil is slowly but surely getting back into a normal daily routine. 

“He recently started working again,” she said. “He had to move home as a result of his injuries, but he is anxious to move out again. He is starting to enjoy regular activities of his daily life.”

Murray said her whole family looks at life differently now, and this experience, although traumatic, brought them closer together. 

“It was very hard on our family, but we really embraced one another, we took shifts, we took care of one another physically and emotionally, we clung to our faith,” she said. “We are all just trying to give back from what we learned from our experience as a family.”

Categories: Community Engagement, News You Can Use, Sandoval Regional Medical Center, Top Stories