Liz Bales (right) and the late Teresa Garafalo.

Liz Bales (right) and the late Teresa Garafalo.

by Pete Mazzaccaro

This Saturday, Feb. 22, The Chestnut Hill Community Association will host the annual community blood drive.

For the third year, the drive is dedicated to Teresa Garofalo, the late friend of CHCA board member and blood drive chair Liz Bales. Garofalo died in August of 2010 of complications from acute myeloid leukemia, a bone marrow disorder in which abnormal white blood cells accumulate in the bone marrow and prevent the production of normal blood cells.

The drive, which will take place at the former O’Doodle’s Toy Store location, 8335 Germantown Ave., between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m., will be conducted by Miller Keystone. The drive is an opportunity to donate blood that will go directly to local health care. Miller Keystone is the direct supplier of blood to Chestnut Hill Hospital.

Dr. Gerald Wydro, medical director of Chestnut Hill Hospital’s Emergency Department, said the blood supply is vital to the hospital’s operations. Blood is used to treat a wide variety of patients.

“Patients who present with active or acute blood loss such as from gastrointestinal bleeding or trauma receive transfusions with packed red blood cells,” Wydro said. “Those who have problems with clotting of the blood either from disease or medications such as Coumadin are treated with plasma to replace essential clotting factors.

“Without a robust and reliable blood supply, patient care in the emergency department would suffer immensely.”

And the hospital needs a steady supply of that blood, all of which comes from public drives like the community blood drive.

According to Diane Wall, administrative director, of the hospital’s laboratory, Chestnut Hill Hospital uses 250 units of blood a month.

“Miller-Keystone is a very high quality blood supplier that supports our blood needs as well as those of the other hospitals in the Pennsylvania region,” Wall said.

“We need community support now more than ever. During this time with multiple weather emergencies, blood donations are down significantly,” Wall said. “ As of yesterday, the Miller-Keystone blood supply was only one quarter of where it should be. This is happening all over the region.”

Anyone who wants to give blood, receive a screening for bone marrow donation, or both should call to make an appointment. Appointments will help Miller Keystone establish staffing levels for the drive. To make an appointment, call Noreen Spota at 215-248-8810 or email her at noreen@chestnuthill.org.