East Bergen Firefighters Mutual Aid Association, a group comprised
of firefighters from 11 towns, is holding a blood drive and
bone marrow donor search in an effort to save the life of
Frankie Potis, the 9-month-old nephew of a Leonia firefighter
who died in the line of duty.
drive will be held Saturday, February 9th at the Edgewater
Community Center, 1167 River Road, Edgewater, from 10 a.m.
to 4 p.m. It will be conducted by Community Blood Services
of Paramus and the HLA Registry Foundation, based in River
was diagnosed with Acute Myelogenous Leukemia (AML) during
a routine check-up.
cannot describe the fear in my heart as the word 'cancer'
was put into the same sentence with my baby's name," said
Kelly McPartland Potis, Frankie's mother, a former Leonia
only chance to save Frankie's life is to find a donor whose
bone marrow is a perfect match. His mother is only a partial
match. A transplant using her marrow would only have a 30%
chance of success.
is a cancer of the blood in which too many granulocytes, a
type of white blood cell, are produced in the bone marrow.
According to the HLA Registry Foundation, a bone marrow transplant
replaces the diseased bone marrow cells with cells from a
healthy donor. The healthy cells are transfused into a patient's
veins through an IV, just like a blood transfusion. Within
two to three weeks, the transplanted bone marrow begins to
produce normal blood cells in the patient.
undergoing bone marrow transplants for the treatment of leukemias
and other life-threatening diseases often need multiple blood
currently lives in Puyallup, Washington with his mother, his
father Frank, and 12-year-old brother Dylan.
and his family had just relocated to Washington when he was
diagnosed with leukemia.
all of our friends and family back East, we felt alone, and
desperately afraid. Dylan, feeling as helpless as us, decided
he would take pictures of his little brother around town and
ask people to pray we find a bone marrow match," recalled
Dylan left a picture at the Puyallup Fire Department, our
prayers were literally answered. The firefighters took one
look at Frankie's picture and organized a marrow drive. Over
400 people turned out to help little Frankie. We were so overwhelmed.
Suddenly, we weren't in this alone. Unfortunately, no match
will soon join the approximately 3000 people around the country
searching the National Marrow Registry for a match.
Leukemia Society and Friends of Allison are helping fund this
drive," said Tom Quinton, the Edgewater volunteer firefighter
who is organizing the drives with help from members of the
Leonia Fire Department and Kelly and Frankie's family and
goal is to test as many people as possible in order to increase
our chances of finding a donor," he noted.
who turn out to give blood are all heroes in my eyes," said
Mrs. Potis. "Each one came out to save a life. They heard
Frankie's story and instead of just thinking how sad it was
they stepped up and did something about it. That's awesome!
The kindness from strangers is powerful. I thank everyone
from the bottom of my heart."
outpouring of caring and support from firefighters from two
coasts keeps the memory of Gerry Crowell alive for the Potis
was a Leonia firefighter," said Mrs. Potis. "One night his
beeper went off, he did what he always did when he was called
out to fight a fire: jump up, and be one of the first to help.
Only this fire was different. It was his own house that was
ablaze. Gerry and his parents lived upstairs. Gerry died in
the flames that night."
from the Gerry Crowell Memorial Fund may be used to offset
testing costs if the drive attracts more than 400 potential
bone marrow donors.
I heard they may be using part of Gerry's fund to help pay
for the bone marrow drive it made me smile. Gerry always had
a way with the kids, it's like he's reaching down from heaven
to lend a hand."
to help pay the cost to test donors and assist the family
with their medical expenses can be made payable to the Leonia
Fire Department Frankie's Fund, Leonia Volunteer Fire Department
Co.#1, c/o NVE Savings Bank, 310 Broad Ave., P.O. Box 125,
Leonia, New Jersey 07605.
donors must be 18 years of age (or 17 with a parent's consent),
and weigh at least 110 pounds. For more information on the
blood drive please call Louise Greiner at Community Blood
marrow donors must be between 18 to 60 years old, and have
no history of hepatitis, heart disease, cancer or AIDS. For
information on the bone marrow donation procedure please call
the HLA Registry at 800-336-3363.