EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – Fernando Flores was born and raised in El Paso and spends his time either with his family or in the gym training. His life was completely changed after excess bleeding from a routine dentist appointment led to a diagnosis of aplastic anemia at the age of 24 back in 2021.

Aplastic anemia is a condition that occurs when your body stops enough new blood cells. Those who are diagnosed are at a higher risk for internal bleeding due to low platelets, affected energy levels from low red blood cells and a low white blood cell count affects your immune system.

Once diagnosed, Flores spent 22 days in the hospital while doctors performed tests and offered treatment. Once they realized the extent of his condition, they offered horse ATG as a form of treatment.

Horse ATG involves a component from a horse’s blood that is then injected into the patient in hopes of restarting their immune system. The goal is to wipe out what’s damaging the body so that once it restarts the cells are not attacking themselves.

“It was monitoring around-the-clock bloodwork, around-the-clock and then depending on my blood levels I would get transfusions, sometimes three times a weeks, sometimes four times a weeks, just depending on how my body so just constant monitoring and being in bed,” he said.

Before his diagnosis, Flores had spent his life training in the gym. It became difficult for him as the treatment did not allow him to work out as he used to, because he would get lightheaded walking short distances.

The experience wore on him mentally and physically, with Flores losing 40 pounds during his stay in the hospital. Once he was discharged, he decided to slowly become active again.

“Once I was able to make it through a 10-minute stretching routine, then I started walking and I’d go outside and gets some sunlight and go walk with my dog and I just started taking it one day at a time and my body started adapting so just week after week, I just kinda added little things here and there, stretch a little bit longer, walk a little bit longer.”

Currently, Flores is in remission from the condition; however, his numbers are still not back to normal. That has not stopped him as he has since gotten stronger to train for fitness competitions.

After being told that he would never compete in a CrossFit competition again by his doctors, Flore qualified to compete in The Fitness Experience in Austin. Flores says this is what he worked towards since his hospital stay and gives thanks to God and his family for helping him achieve something that seemed impossible over a year ago.

“I bounced back and showed the level of fitness I’ve achieved, and it put me in that position, so obviously the competitor in me wanted to go out there and really go out there and try to win but then I had to take a step back and remember that a year ago, I wasn’t even allowed out of my house because I had no immune system so the fact that I made it this far it’s just mind-blowing.”

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