Ex-TimesLedger employee dies of transplant rejection

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Philomena Marino, whose father owned the C & V pork store in Bayside, died June 22 after a prolonged rejection of transplanted lungs she had received to treat cystic fibrosis. She was 28 and lived in Whitestone.

Marino, a graduate of Benjamin N. Cardozo High School in Bayside, worked at the TimesLedger Newspapers as a free-lance production employee in the Art Department from July to September 1998.

She was diagnosed as a child with cystic fibrosis, a disease that causes the lungs to become clogged with mucus and leads to life-threatening lung infections, according to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Web site.

The disease also affects the pancreas’ ability to secrete enzymes that break down food.

“She was a brave and courageous young woman who fought her whole life with this illness,” said Marino’s cousin, Bessie Bonavita.

Although relatively healthy most of her life, Marino became more seriously ill about seven years ago and had a successful lung transplant at Duke University four years ago.

“It was like she got a new life back,” said Debbra Friedrich, a friend and co-worker of Marino’s at the Master Mount wholesale card company.

Marino’s new lungs began to fail, her family said, after she inhaled debris from the destruction of the World Trade Center on Sept. 11. Marino had been working at the New York Mercantile Exchange in Lower Manhattan when she saw the planes hit the towers and fled to Brooklyn along with thousands of others.

Her transplant, a success up to that point, began to fail, said her father, Vincent Marino, who owned the C & V pork store on Bell Boulevard until 2000. The store is now the site of the Il Vesuvio restaurant.

The active Marino, who had a lifelong love of dancing, pursued her dream of a computer career by becoming certified in information technology even while sick.

“For her, working was everything,” said Marino’s brother, Gianluca. “There was nothing stopping this girl. Nothing.”

Hundreds attended her funeral at St. Luke’s Church in Whitestone. Marino was cremated, according to her wishes, Bonavita said.

“She was energetic and full of life,” Bonavita said. “She was thankful to everyone for being there for her all the time.”

Marino is survived by her parents, Felicia and Vincent Marino, and her brother Gianluca.

Reach reporter Ayala Ben-Yehuda by e-mail at or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 146.

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