WEST ORANGE, NJ – West Orange High School’s second annual blood drive recently collected 50 pints of blood and reached out to its large community to find a bone marrow donor for Gregory Elementary School second grader Erica DePauli.

DePauli was first diagnosed with Autosomal Dominant Osteopetrosis Type 2 in March of 2017 through genetic testing performed at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. Osteopetrosis is a disease that causes bones to be abnormally dense and makes them more prone to fractures. Due to the abnormal growth of bones, it can cause issues like stunted growth, vision/hearing loss, anemia, bone infection and can ultimately lead to bone marrow failure.

DePauli also requires ongoing blood transfusions for her rare genetic blood cancer. Any blood collected at the high school drive that is compatible for DePauli will be used in her treatments.

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Typically, 70 percent of bone marrow donations come from persons outside the recipient’s family. However, none of DePauli’s members are a match, and the family must rely on a compatible member of the community to come forward and donate.

DePauli is also of Peruvian-American descent and requires a bone marrow donation from a person in the same Hispanic genetic pool. Her parents stopped by the blood drive to thank students and staff for participating and to share about their daughter’s need for bone marrow.

As part of teacher Catherine Connor’s Dynamics of Healthcare in Society class, students observed the process of blood donation and recognize the need for blood drives and how they give back to the community.

The class teaches orientation and clinical exposure to healthcare services and their delivery. It presents an interdisciplinary perspective, focusing on process skills such as critical thinking, ethical reasoning, effective communication and ways to continue independent learning throughout life.

The professional competencies stressed apply to general issues and topics common to all health care providers. Upon successful completion of the course, students receive one college credit from Rutgers University.

The blood drive was again organized by physical education teacher Ozzie Diaz.

To donate blood, visit the Community Blood Services website here.

Find out about bone marrow donation here.