Students and staff members of St. John’s University came together for the first of a series of blood drives being held on behalf of Arthur DaSilva, St. John’s Former Assistant Director of Recreational Sports.
DaSilva was diagnosed in May 2003 with a rare and very aggressive form of blood cancer known as NK Cell (Natural Killer) Leukemia. The blood drives were held on campus to help find a matching bone marrow for DaSilva.
The Office of Campus Activities, along with the Office of Community Relations, sponsored the blood drive. The New York Blood Center and the National Marrow Donor Program were also present during the blood drives. Results determining whether a match was found for DaSilva will take about four to eight weeks. According to the National Marrow Donor Program, which is the organization actually in charge of finding the matching donor for the patient, donors must be between the ages of 18 and 60, in good health and at least 110 pounds. All of the donations are anonymous for up to a year after the donation. Afterwards, the patient and donor are allowed to meet.
Since DaSilva is of Chinese ancestry, the odds of finding a matching bone marrow among non-Asian donors is 1,000,000 to 1, compared to Asian donors which is 20,000 to 1. Bill Gavin, Director of Campus Recreation said,"That’s why we are really pushing Asian-Americans to come to our drive."
There are six blood-type markers: five or six are needed to match for DaSilva. DaSilva√ØøΩs disease is genetic, not hereditary, and his two brothers were tested but their matches were not close enough.
Donors ranged from students, staff and even organizers. "It’s a good thing to do because somebody might need it. You never know when you might be in the same situation and you are the one that needs the blood," said transfer student Carol Marinha.
Jack Flynn, blood drive coordinator and Campus Activities advisor, said, "We got 124 pints of blood last week for Artie’s drive and 159 donations who did the HLA (human leukocyte antigen) bone marrow test, which is a great number that we feel very happy about. If we don’t get a match we are going to keep doing this for Artie until we find a match."
Artie has received much support from his friends and colleagues. "Artie was known for lifting people spirits. He was a caring and friendly boss, always caring about all of his students,"said Bill Gavin, Director of Campus Recreation.
Mary Pelkowski, a close friend of DaSilva and Director of Campus Activities said, "I got to work close with him, Artie is a wonderful man and great friend. Artie always has a contagious nature and people love being around him," she said. "Artie and his family are in my daily prayers.’