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Press Releases / 2007 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: JANUARY 19, 2007

FDNY AND NEW YORK BLOOD CENTER HONORS
BONE MARROW DONORS AND RECIPIENTS

Two firefighters who donated bone marrow meet their recipients for the first time

Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta today inducted Firefighter Stephen Duffy of Ladder 16 and Firefighter Robert O’Neill of Engine 304 into the “Honor Roll of Life.” The 3rd annual ceremony honored more than 80 firefighters who have donated life-saving bone marrow to individuals suffering from a variety of cancers or blood disorders. NYBC President Dr. Robert L. Jones along with NYBC Chairman Howard Milstein took part in today’s ceremony at New York City Fire Department headquarters in Brooklyn. For the first time, Firefighters Duffy and O’Neill met their bone marrow recipients. Additionally, three-time bone marrow donor Captain William Connolly of Division 7 was reunited with his first recipient, whom he first met 11 years ago.

“At this annual event we get the opportunity to acknowledge bravery that often goes overlooked – that of individuals fighting a life-threatening disease,” said Commissioner Scoppetta. “The strength of the recipients and the selflessness demonstrated by our firefighter donors emphasizes why our partnership with the New York Blood Center is so important, and why all New Yorkers should consider signing up to give the gift of life through bone marrow donation.”

“The partnership FDNY has with the New York Blood Center Bone Marrow Program is one that epitomizes the dedication and caring that both our agencies have for our fellow human beings,” said Dr. Jones.  “I wish to thank Commissioner Scoppetta and New York’s Bravest for the selfless sacrifices they have made to those in need, both on- and off-duty.”

On January 22, 2004, Firefighter Duffy, 33, of Elmsford, donated bone marrow to 18-year-old Samantha Alcazar from Guadalajara, Mexico. Doctors first noticed Ms. Alcazar’s low platelet count when she was 6 years old. After a bone marrow biopsy, treatment and consultations with other doctors, her spleen was removed, and she was told she was cured. A few years later, she began experiencing additional health problems that required another stay in the hospital. She was diagnosed with Fanconi’s Anemia, a rare blood disease. She was told she needed a bone marrow transplant, and after several months of searching, a perfect match was found in Firefighter Duffy.

On December 7, 2004, Firefighter O’Neill, 41, of Glen Oaks, donated bone marrow to retired college professor John Deeney of Dover, Deleware. Mr. Deeney, 65, was diagnosed with Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia in 1999. He was referred to Johns Hopkins University Medical Center, where doctors told him he had five years to live. He underwent two clinical trials in an effort to cure his disease, yet nothing worked. Doctors said nothing more could be done because he was over the age limit for a bone marrow transplant at Johns Hopkins. He then was referred to M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas. There, he underwent another clinical trial that also was unsuccessful. His last hope was a bone marrow transplant, and after several months of searching, Firefighter O’Neill was found to be the best match.

The Fire Department encourages 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, and the first firefighter donated bone marrow through the program in 1991. The FDNY is the single-largest bone marrow registry group in the nation with more than 13,000 firefighters on the list. To date, 83 firefighters have donated bone marrow for 91 different 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. 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
New York Blood Center (NYBC), one of the nation's largest non-profit, community-based blood centers, has been providing blood, transfusion products and services to patients in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut hospitals since 1964. NYBC is also home to the Lindsley F. Kimball Research Institute, the National Cord Blood Program at the Milstein National Cord Blood Center, the world's first and largest public cord blood bank.  NYBC provides medical services and programs (Clinical, Transfusion and Hemophilia Services) through our medical professionals and transfusion medicine physicians.

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

  • 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 & Emily B. Rahimi, (FDNY) (718) 999-2056

http://www.nyc.gov/fdny

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