Additional bone marrow, blood drive to honor area resident

A recent blood and bone marrow registry drive held in honor of Penfield resident George "Pizza" Pirraglia was so successful that another event has been scheduled for April. The upcoming blood and bone marrow registry drive will be held from noon to 6 p.m. on Thursday, April 14 at the Grange building in Penfield. As before, it is being organized by the American Red Cross; DKMS Bone Marrow Center; Hahne Regional Medical Center; DuBois Regional Medical Center; and friends of Pirraglia.Pirraglia, a Vietnam veteran, was diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) in September 2004. CLL is a cancer of the blood and bone marrow, the spongy tissue inside the bones where blood cells are produced. This type of cancer particularly affects white blood cells called lymphocytes, which help the body fight infection. The chemical "Agent Orange," which was used to remove dense foliage to allow for troop movement on the ground during the Vietnam War, has been linked to an increased risk of LLC. According to Pirraglia, the March 16 event resulted in 117 units of blood collected and 170 people added to the DKMS registry. "It was overwhelming," Pirraglia said. "I couldn't believe the people." He said he was grateful that so many people turned out for the first event. The additional blood and marrow registry drive will be held because so many people expressed interest.