Avella has blood drive for leukemia victim

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City Councilman Tony Avella (D-Bayside), City Councilman Dennis Gallagher (R-Middle Village) and the Bayside Community Volunteer Ambulance Corps joined forces to sponsor a blood drive to help a 2-year-old Ridgewood girl who suffers from leukemia.

The Saturday event — part of the corps’s annual blood drive — helped collect blood and platelets necessary for Genevieve Hrubes’ treatment and to replenish the city’s diminishing blood reserves. The drive at the corps’ headquarters collected more than 35 pints of blood and platelets.

“She is doing OK, but she has her bad days when she can’t even walk,” said Genevieve’s mother, Gabrielle Hrubes. “Her legs are the biggest problem because her muscles are weak.”

Genevieve was diagnosed with leukemia on March 28, three days after she was taken to the hospital by her parents.

“The drive is important for the child because she needs to draw on the platelet supply,” said Avella. “The blood supply from the donations after Sept. 11 is also depleted and everyday blood levels are back to were there is a shortage.”

There is an overwhelming need to replace and stock the city’s blood supply because it is in constant demand to treat all types of patients — those suffering from cancer, hemophiliacs, accident victims and people having surgery. Platelets, which are colorless cells that control bleeding, get wiped out in chemotherapy and radiation treatments.

“At first we were told by the doctors there was nothing they could do,” said Hrubes, who has a seven-week-old baby called Issais. “Doctors said she had only a couple of hours because she didn’t have any blood in her body.”

Her daughter, she said, receives a daily chemotherapy treatment in pill form.

She said her daughter knows that she is sick and has a mid-point IV access tube in her chest, which prevents her from being a normal 2-year-old. Genevieve, she said, cannot run around, swim in the pool, go to the park or the beach because it could cause health problems.

Avella said he decided to put together the blood drive after he was contacted by one of the girl’s College Point relatives, who was having a difficult time organizing a similar type of event. After finding out that the girl lived in Gallagher’s district, he said, he called his colleague to join forces.

“Sponsoring the event gets the community involved to help someone else,” he said. “And in the long run you help yourself. We will definitely do more. It worked out well.”

People from Bayside, Flushing, Whitestone, Little Neck and Glen Oaks stopped by during the day to donate a pint each.

The illness of her middle child, Hrubes said, puts a lot of strain on the family. Genevieve’s older brother, Desmond, 4, is very protective of his sister. He never wants to let her go to the doctor because he is afraid she will not come back, Hrubes said.

“She gets a lot of medicine every day and knows when she has a doctor’s appointment,” Hrubes said. “She is the typical kid and will try to use her illness against you. She is too smart for her own good.”

Alex Madera, head of the Bayside Ambulance Corps, said his organization holds a blood drive every year and after hearing about Genevieve, his organization decided to help her.

“The majority of the people in this community have kids of their own, and we can’t imagine what this family must be going through,” he said. “Parents will do anything for their kid.”

He said the blood drive is vital for the city since blood supply levels are severely depressed. This event not only helps Genevieve, Madera said, it helps anybody who might need a blood transfusion.

“I donate blood because I know it will help save somebody,” said Sara Schiffman, of Whitestone. “You don’t have to do anything except sit there with your arm out.

“You are affecting somebody’s life greatly,” she said, “people need blood more than ever.”

To donate blood call (800) 439-6876. It you would like to donate blood for Genevieve Hrubes her file number is 18561 and her patient number is 45418.

Reach reporter Adam Kramer by e-mail at or call 229-0300, Ext. 157.

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