BAY RIDGE, Brooklyn (PIX11) — The Bay Ridge community came together Wednesday to donate blood at a drive that aimed to give back to those in need.
Bobby Daquara organized the drive at Greenhouse Cafe in Bay Ridge, which he owns. He’s been holding blood drives there for over a decade after seeing how essential blood donations were for his daughter, Haley Daquara, who died in 2013 at the age of 10.
As a baby, Haley was diagnosed with Hurler Syndrome, a rare disorder that causes a deficiency in the lysosomal enzyme, which breaks down fats and sugars in the blood. Since getting surgery at the age of 1, her father says she depended on blood donations for the entirety of her short life.
“Haley was a child that required a bone marrow transplant using stem cells, a donated umbilical cord,” said Daquara. “So right off the bat at 1 year old she needed the help of a donor, which she had received in that umbilical cord blood.”
Over the years, Daquara says his family has held 69 blood drives at the cafe and has collected enough blood to save 11,000 people. The blood drive was held days ahead of what would’ve been Haley’s 21st birthday, which is Sept. 13.
John Torres is one of the dozens of people who showed up to give blood after experiencing grief of his own.
“I lost both parents very young,” Torres said. “So if I can save someone’s life, I feel like I’m giving back.”
At a time when donation centers are in dire need of blood, Daquara is hoping to be a lifeline — channeling his grief into inspiring others to give back.
“It means a lot because I know that there are people that are going to need that blood product,” Daquara said. “They’re in the hospital and they’re going to need that, and it’s nice when it’s on the shelf.”
You can stop by one of the many New York Blood Centers across the city to make a blood donation. You can also schedule an appointment here.