Community holds blood drives for Warwick high school student

WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) – Turnout greatly exceeded expectations at Sunday’s blood drive to benefit a Toll Gate High School student.

Gianna Cirella is a junior battling pneumonia in both her lungs and a blood infection.

Since her diagnosis, Cirella’s soccer team and the community have come together to offer support.

Sunday’s blood drive had a goal of 15 donors. In total, more than 30 people gave blood in her honor.

The first donor of the drive was one of Cirella’s teammates, Hailey Clark.

“I donated blood for the first time to help her because I felt like I just needed to do whatever I could to help her out,” Clark said.

The drive was decked out in purple, Cirella’s favorite color and a symbol of support.

Rhode Island Blood Center employees said it’s possible Cirella herself will benefit from the donations collected Sunday. It’s possible she’s already received blood given by her classmates in a drive held earlier this month.

“Her own high school had a blood drive on Friday the 13 and by Monday she was needing blood products, so it’s very possible, because blood takes 2 days to process before it can actually go to a patient,” said Karen LeBlanc, Marketing and Communications Director at the RIBC. “It’s possible that her own high school drive that students donated and faculty donated actually helped her.”

A GoFundMe page set up by Cirella’s family has already raised more than $50,000 of its $75,000 goal since its launch Thursday.