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Press Releases / 2006 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 19, 2006

FDNY TAKES PART IN “HONOR ROLL OF LIFE” CEREMONY
HONORING FIREFIGHTERS WHO HAVE DONATED BONE MARROW

2 FDNY DONORS MEET WITH BONE MARROW RECIPIENTS FOR FIRST TIME

Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta today inducted Firefighter John Jensen and former FDNY Firefighter Joe Kazlauskas to the “Honor Roll of Life”. Today marked the 2nd annual “Honor Roll of Life” ceremony, an event that honors the more than 70 firefighters who have donated life-saving bone marrow to individuals suffering from a variety of life threatening diseases. NYBC President Dr. Robert L. Jones along with NYBC Board Member Mr. Howard Milstein were on hand for today’s ceremony at Fire Department Headquarters in Brooklyn. For the first time, Firefighter John Jensen of Staten Island and member of Ladder Company 174, and former FDNY Firefighter Joe Kazlauskas of Smithtown, New York were reunited with their bone marrow recipients.

“Signing up for the bone marrow registry is simple and just another way our members help save lives,” said Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta. “Firefighter Jensen and former Firefighter Kazlauskas stepped up to the challenge and were able to provide a lifeline for two gravely ill individuals. We’re proud of their contribution and proud as a Department to partner with the New York Blood Center for this campaign. We hope that more New Yorkers will join us in choosing to give the gift of life.”

In October of 2005, Firefighter Jensen, age 30, a five-year veteran of the Fire Department joined the Bone Marrow Program through a recruitment drive at the Fire Department’s Training Academy on Randall’s Island. Jensen donated bone marrow to 27-year-old Brooke Williams of Gouverneur, New York. Ms. Williams was diagnosed with acute Leukemia in October of 2002, after four rounds of chemotherapy she was told she had a good chance at long-term remission, however four months later she relapsed and was in need of a transplant. Often patients waiting for transplants wait months or even years for a donor match, however a perfect match was luckily found four weeks later in the form of John Jensen. She was transplanted on January 20, 2004 at Roswell Park Center Institute in Buffalo, and is still recovering.

Former firefighter Joe Kazlauskas also joined the Bone Marrow Program at the Training Academy back in September of 2002.  For two years he worked at Ladder 144 in Whitestone but is now currently a Police Officer with the Nassau County Police Department in Seaford.

Joe’s recipient, Glenn Hale of Phoenix Arizona was diagnosed with Chronic Leukemia in 1991, he remained on oral treatment for about ten years and then he began chemotherapy treatments in 1998. Experiencing varying bouts of success and failure with his treatment, Glenn was referred to City of Hope Transplant Center in California for a bone marrow transplant.  After unsuccessful tests for a match from his four siblings, including his twin, the doctors turned to the National Marrow Donor Registry.  Four months later Joe was found to be a match and Glenn received his transplant on January 12, 2004, and is now recovering well.

Throughout the years, the Fire Department has encouraged its members to donate blood as well as other blood products such as blood platelets and bone marrow. The Fire Department began its bone marrow donation partnership with the New York Blood Center in 1990. The first firefighter donated bone marrow through this program in 1991. To date, the FDNY is the single-largest bone marrow registry group in the nation with more than 8,000 firefighters registered. To date 72 Firefighters have donated bone marrow for 78 different patients, and by the end of the month 76 Firefighters will have donated for 82 patients.

The NYBC plaque, the “Honor Roll of Life,” has the engraved names of firefighters who have donated bone marrow to men, women and children diagnosed with diseases ranging from leukemia to Hodgkin’s and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Probationary Firefighters are encouraged to sign-up for the bone marrow registry during their initial training at the Fire Academy on Randall’s Island. For the past five years, nearly 100 percent of every probationary firefighting class has participated in the program.

About the New York Blood Center
The NYBC has been a singular healthcare resource, serving one of the most diverse populations in the world. One of the nations largest blood distribution and services organization, NYBC provides blood and blood products for more than one million transfusions annually, a significant portion of our nation’s blood supply. We serve close to 200 hospitals and 20 million people in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. NYBC is also home to the prestigious Lindsley F. Kimball Research Institute, one of the world’s leading centers for basic and applied research in hematology and transfusion medicine.

About the National Marrow Donor Program
The National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP) helps people who need a life-saving marrow or blood cell transplant. We connect patients, doctors, donors and researchers to resources they need to help more people live longer, healthier lives. To achieve our mission, we:

  • Search our Registry -- the largest listing of volunteer donors and cord blood units in the world
  • Support patients and their doctors throughout the transplant process
  • Match patients with the best donor or cord blood unit using innovative science and technology

 

Press Contact: Francis X. Gribbon / Sethe Andrews (FDNY) (718) 999-2056

http://www.nyc.gov/fdny

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