SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- It was Rene Aranda’s dream to become a UPS driver, just as delivery drivers were about to become more important than ever. But then fate threw down a major roadblock on a road that was filled with obstacles from the start.
“It was very hard because you start out part-time. You have to have a second job, absolutely have to have a second job. I got hired seasonal first, driver's helper, and I was let go and I was rehired four months after that," Aranda said.
None of that work was as a driver. But the biggest, most challenging obstacle was yet to come. Aranda said, “In between Christmas and New Year's Eve of 2019, I started feeling sick. It started with a runny nose, a cough.”
What was diagnosed as Influenza B, descended into a rare case of necrotizing pneumonia by January 2020, landing Aranda in the hospital. He was 24 years old. He said, “Once they told me I required surgery to remove part of that lung, I did start, the emotions started to go through like, okay I'm scared.”
Aranda said the surgery didn't go smoothly. “Things went really bad from there. I actually lost oxygen during surgery.” Aranda said, “I woke up with a chest tube and a breathing tube.”
Instead of part of his left lung, doctors had to remove all of it. They told Aranda becoming a UPS driver could be too strenuous and that he needed a plan B.
But Aranda wasn't going to let this close the door on his dream. “No, I was not ready to just let it go just because they told me you should just move to something else.”
Aranda said he found the strength to fight for his dream from his two young children. He said he needed to get back on his feet for them.
His doctor told him that would take nine to 12 months, but three months later, Aranda was already getting stronger.
“I felt ten times better. I could carry my kids. I couldn't even carry a gallon of milk in February," said Aranda.
And then the call came. UPS wanted Aranda to be a driver. “That just adds extra motivation, excitement to everything I was working for.”
Two months later, he started driving in July 2020, in the middle of a pandemic at a time when delivery drivers had become a lifeline for people at home in need of essentials. Aranda said, “Every day, people are thankful to me every day.”
Aranda said he loves what he’s doing. “I get to serve my community all over San Diego. You know, driving that big brown package car. It's a pride thing you know.”
Aranda knows how dangerous the coronavirus could be to him, but that he is careful and just grateful to be here, working for a company that people have relied on during the pandemic.