An annual community blood drive is looking for more than just blood this year — it’s searching for the person who could save the life of a six-year-old Dyker Heights boy through a bone marrow donation.
This yearly event is being held at P.S. 102 in memory of Mathiew Johnson, an avid blood donor, who also worked at the school as a janitor.
For the past two years, alongside her husband, his mother June Johnson has coordinated the blood drive. For this year’s event, Johnson is using the day not only to collect lifesaving blood donations but also as a platform to discover a bone marrow match for John Faro Vitale, a six-year-old boy currently battling a rare blood disease called Fanconi Anemia. The blood drive hopes finally to provide the young boy with a matching bone marrow donor.
“My family and I are so excited about this drive because we are hoping to find a match for young John Faro Vitale,” said Johnson. “While we celebrate the memory of our son, brother, uncle and friend Mathiew, we pray that we find a cure for John on the 15th.”
The blood drive has been held successfully since its inception in 2014, and Johnson hopes 2016’s event will be just as successful in bringing Vitale the bone marrow match that he and his family have sought.
“Within the past two years we’ve collected over 180 pints of blood,” said Johnson. “If a blood drive collects 30 pints of blood, that’s considered good.”
Johnson lauded P.S. 102 Principal Cornelia Sichenze for her yearly assistance and accommodation to the event. “She’s been really great supporting the blood drive and allowing us to do whatever we want,” said Johnson.
The blood and bone marrow drive will be held on March 15 from 3-7:30 p.m. P.S. 102 is located at 211 72nd Street. More information can be accessed through ps102.org. The NY Blood Center eligibility line is 1-800-688-0900; prospective donors should call ahead of time to make sure they are eligible to donate blood. All donors should bring a photo or signature ID with them to the event. Donors are advised to eat a wholesome meal before giving blood. There will be complimentary snacks, coffee and tea at the event, as well as a free raffle.