Bone Marrow Donors Needed

Paula (Fitzgerald) Silvia of Middletown has been diagnosed with myeloid dysplasia syndrome (MDS), a form of blood cancer where the bone marrow cells do not mature into healthy blood cells.  Paula received this devastating news at the end of June.  Nothing seemed particularly out of sorts; she was travelling with her family, working, going to the beach and doing all her volunteer activities.  Only indications were catching more colds and a little tired but Paula’s life was always busy and she does so much for everyone, she should be tired.

Paula has started her first round of chemotherapy. Every four weeks, she has five consecutive days of chemotherapy infusion. However, it is only a temporary treatment.  A bone marrow transplant is needed to cure the disease.  

A bone marrow registration drive is being held on Sunday, September 17 from 4:00pm to 7:00pm at Fenner Hall, 15 Fenner Ave, Newport, for this purpose.  It is being organized by her family and friends and is in conjunction with Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and www.BeTheMatch.org, a national bone marrow donor registry.

The first source for bone marrow matches is a sibling or child, if they fall in the age range, but Paula’s family members were not a match.  More than 35,000 people in the United States are diagnosed each year with leukemia, anemias, myelodysplastic disorders and other life-threatening diseases requiring treatment with a blood stem cell or bone marrow transplant.  About 70 percent of bone marrow transplant recipients must rely on an unrelated donor.  Finding a compatible donor is a challenge.  The opportunity to register and/or donate will help many patients in need..  

Donors must be 18 to 44, and be willing to donate to any patient in need. To join the registry, potential donors must complete paperwork at the drive and have a cheek swab taken.  If unable to attend, donors are asked to go to www.bethematch.org to sign up, or visit any RI Blood Center.

Paula (Fitzgerald) grew up in Newport in the “Fifth Ward”, attending Newport schools, graduating from Rogers in 1968.  Her father, Jim Fitzgerald, was the Dean of Boys at Thompson and football coach and her mother Meg also worked in the school system.  She has an older sister, Maureen, and younger siblings, Nancy and Bill.  Paula is an outstanding athlete, tennis and golf being her games of recent years.  After graduating from college, Paula continued working at Salas’ until it closed and now works for private catering companies. TR McGrath and Kitchen Companion.

Paula is married to Manny P Silvia, a retired lieutenant in Middletown police department and retired supervisor in DCYF Protective Services.  They have two children, Corrine and Greg.  

Paula does an amazing amount of volunteering – although never wanting any recognition for her efforts.  She volunteers for many organizations such as the MLK Community Center, Relay for Life, the Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians, Mosaic Club, AARP school programs, and Vasco deGama Society.  She’s a communicant of St. Augustin’s Church.

The news of her diagnosis is a shock, but Paula continues with her active, involved life, giving it her best.  She wants to send the message that everyone should be proactive about their health and always follow up on lab work.  Paula is now awaiting a bone marrow transplant!

Any questions, please contact Nancy Fitzgerald, nancyfitz53@gmail.com, 401-855-1985.  To learn more please contact Dana-Farber’s Bone Marrow Donor Program at 866-875-3324, email nmdpdonor@dfci.harvard.edu or visit online www.bethematch.org

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