NEW YORK, Nov. 19, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- At a gala event Monday evening, Rafaello Carone, 12, took the stage at the Waldorf Astoria dressed to the nines in a neatly pressed suit and blood-red shirt and tie.
His appearance at the event, celebrating the start of New York Blood Center's 50th year, was all the more poignant since -- but for blood donated by volunteers through NYBC -- Rafi wouldn't be alive. He survived leukemia with the help of 36 blood transfusions, and is now healthy and active.
Rafi was joined at the event by Ariel Fishman, a university professor who needed 70 units of blood after getting hit by a taxi.
"Helping patients like Rafi and Ariel is what New York Blood Center has been about for 50 years," NYBC Chairman Howard P. Milstein said. "They are a living testament to the hard work of all the doctors, researchers, administrative staff and volunteers who have made NYBC a singular New York institution."
"In recent decades, we've seen our mission expand as new technologies open vast new opportunities to save lives through blood-related products," Mr. Milstein continued. "With innovative partnerships, cutting-edge research facilities and the largest public cord blood bank in the world, NYBC is well-positioned to maintain its leadership role in the next half century and beyond."
Partner Organizations Recognized
The gala at New York's Waldorf Astoria Hotel recognized three partnering organizations whose involvement has been critical to NYBC's success: MetLife, Johnson & Johnson and The City of New York. All three became inaugural inductees into NYBC's newly launched "Hall of Fame."
"These three organizations comprise the first class of inductees into our Hall of Fame for demonstrating exceptional commitment to our cause and a true passion for helping meet the critical blood needs of patients in our communities," said President and CEO Christopher D. Hillyer, MD. "The countless number of individuals whose lives have been saved thanks to the combined efforts of our honorees and many other community and corporate partners are a true testimony to NYBC's success over the past 50 years."
In addition to blood collection and distribution, NYBC is also home to the National Cord Blood Program at the Howard P. Milstein National Cord Blood Center, the world's largest public cord blood bank. NYBC pioneered stem cell therapy using cord blood and the National Cord Blood Program has now provided 5,000 cord blood stem cell units for transplantation around the world. In November 2011, NYBC received FDA approval for Hemacord®, the first stem cell therapy ever approved by the U.S. government.
Jaclyn Albanese, who received a cord blood transplant at age 15 to combat her leukemia, told the audience at the event that she "would not be alive today if it weren't for the lifesaving work of the Blood Center."
NYBC also provides extensive medical services at partner hospitals, distributes clotting factors to the hemophilia community, and operates a renowned research institute.
Symposium on Transfusion Medicine
As part of its anniversary celebration, NYBC is also hosting a symposium today at its New York headquarters entitled "Advancing the Future of Transfusion Medicine." Experts from Harvard Medical School, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, and New York Medical College will join their NYBC colleagues at the event.
"For five decades, New York Blood Center has been at the forefront of transfusion medicine research," said NYBC Chief Medical Officer Beth Shaz, MD. "We're proud of what's been accomplished here, not only the 25 million units of blood distributed to our hospital partners over five decades, but scientific advances including solvent detergent technology to purify the blood supply and development of the Hepatitis B vaccine. As we enter our 50th year, this is both the perfect time and perfect place to examine what comes next."
About New York Blood Center: New York Blood Center (NYBC) is one of the nation's largest non-profit, community-based blood centers. For fifty years, NYBC has been providing blood, transfusion products and services to hospitals serving more than 25 million people in New York City, Long Island, the Hudson Valley, New Jersey, and parts of Connecticut and Pennsylvania. NYBC is also home to the Lindsley F. Kimball Research Institute and the National Cord Blood Program at the Howard P. Milstein National Cord Blood Center, the world's largest public cord blood bank. NYBC provides medical services and programs (Clinical, Transfusion, and Hemophilia Services) through our medical professionals along with consultative services in transfusion medicine. Please visit us on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/newyorkbloodcenter. Follow us on Twitter: @NY_BloodCenter. Website: www.nybloodcenter.org
SOURCE New York Blood Center