Teresa Garofalo holds Liz Bales' newborn daughter, Reese.

Teresa Garofalo holds Liz Bales’ newborn daughter, Reese.

by Pete Mazzaccaro

The annual blood drive sponsored by the Chestnut Hill Community Association will take place on Saturday, Feb. 22, and for the third year in a row, it will be dedicated to chairperson Liz Bales’ late friend Teresa Garofalo.

A model turned veterinarian, 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.

“Her treatment lasted a little more than three years,” Bales said. “I got to spend a lot of those days with her. A lot of those days were great fun. Others were very hard. I learned a lot about her and about the value of life.”

Bales said that the drive is not just for Garofalo. It’s about the many people in the same situation.

“The blood donated really does saves lives,” she said. “It might be a tough day, to come in and give, but you’re literally giving love and life to another person.

“I really appreciate every donation.”

Bales said that blood treatments helped her friend live an extra 18 months.

“Less than that and she never would have met my daughter Reese, who is named for her,” Bales said,

This year, the drive will be held in a new location – the former O’Doodle’s toy store space at 8335 Germantown Ave. The space has been donated by Bowman properties. Bales hopes the location will be more convenient for people. It’s a more visible spot with plenty of parking across the street.

“I’m really grateful to Bowman for the space,” Bales said.

Bales said she understands February is tough to begin with, not only because the weather might be bad – it snowed the last two years – but because February is a month in which donations are always down.

“I like a challenge,” Bales joked.

The drive will again be conducted by the Miller Keystone Blood Center, an organization that keeps donated blood in the local Philadelphia area. The drive is scheduled to begin at 8 a.m. and will conclude at 2 p.m.

One thing Miller Keystone will be doing on site are bone marrow donation screenings. The screenings require little: a cheek swab and some paperwork. Adults older than 45 will be asked to make a $100 donation to be added to the list.

“What people should realize is that because of advances in technology, marrow donation is much easer,” Bales said. “You no longer need to have it extracted from bone. It can be done in most cases with a simple blood draw.”

Bales said that there is a tremendous need for more minority donors.

“As of 2010, white patients had a 93 percent chance of matching to a donor on the registry,” she said. “African American patients had a 66 percent chance of matching to someone on the registry.”

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. Anyone interested can make an appointment now by calling Noreen Spota at 215-248-8810 or emailing her at noreen@chestnuthill.org.

Bales said the most important thing for anyone who is on the fence is to find out more by consulting Miller Keystone’s website, giveapint.org, to check your ability to give.

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