Jun 27, 2014

Annual Katie DaSilva Memorial Blood Drive to be held July 1 at St. Cecilia’s



By Rebecca Drake

WILBRAHAM – Katie DaSilva was just 8 years old in 2002 when she lost her battle with a rare form of cancer.

But the little girl with the Shirley Temple curls continues to bring hope to others through the Annual Katie DaSilva Memorial Blood Drive, to be held this year on July 1 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., at St. Cecilia Church, 42 Main St., here.

Katie was the daughter of St. Cecilia parishioners Antero and Clara DaSilva and the sister of older siblings Nate and Jackie. Clara DaSilva is a longtime employee of the American Red Cross Blood Services in Springfield, where she is the staff scheduling coordinator, and knows the importance of blood donation.

“She used a lot of blood right after her liver transplant,” Clara said of her daughter. Clara recalled one occasion when Katie received blood at the blood cancer center in Springfield.

“It was a miracle, like within a couple of hours it was remarkable the way she had transformed … and was able to go home and to play.”

Clara also spoke to iobserve about her daughter’s bright personality and how she cared about other sick children while dealing with her own disease.

“She was like a little bright star in our lives,” said Clara. “She brought a lot of happiness and light into our home.”

“Even when she was in the hospital, she would hear other little babies cry and she was more worried about them than she was about herself,” Clara said. “She loved meeting other little kids who were sick and hanging out with them and playing with them.

“It made her illness more tolerable and she was the one who was able to have us be at peace with her illness because she tolerated it well,” said Clara.

The annual blood drive helps celebrate Katie’s life and also brings in blood supplies at a time of year when they are desperately needed, said Ana Parrelli, the district manager of donor recruitment at Springfield’s Red Cross blood services center.

“The unique thing about this particular blood drive running on July first is that it leads right into the Fourth of July holiday,” said Parrelli. “Summer is already a difficult time for us, in terms of blood collection, because we have our schools that are out … families are on vacation. So we have the potential to run into critical shortages.”  

Parrelli, who is a relative of the DaSilva family, said the memorial blood drive also is a special time for family members. “It is really a family event. We have homemade food and a really family atmosphere. We remember Katie and celebrate her life.”

Clara agreed that the blood drive helps to commemorate her daughter’s life, while also helping others.

“It’s always around the time she passed away, so we try to remember her, that way, to help others who may be in need, especially in the middle of July when it's hard to get donors.”

Donors may schedule an appointment for the 12th Annual Katie DaSilva Memorial Blood Drive by calling 1-800-redcross or visiting www.redcrossblood.org. Appointments are encouraged but walk-ins are also welcome.

For more on the July 1 Katie DaSilva Memorial Blood Drive, tune in to the June 28 edition of “Real to Reel,” which airs at 7 p.m. on WWLP-22NEWS.