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Scout out to collect blood; Leukemia patient, 5, inspires drive.

Byline: Carla Charter

HUBBARDSTON - On May 10 at the Hubbardston Center School Cafeteria from 3 to 8 p.m., a blood drive will be held and dedicated to Avery Forrestall, a 5-year-old Henniker, N.H., native who is fighting leukemia.

The drive is the Eagle Scout project of Hubbardston Scout Matt DiPinto. Avery's grandparents, Phyllis and Dennis Pomerleau are good friends of the DiPinto family.

Avery was diagnosed with leukemia at age 5 and received intense chemotherapy. While in chemotherapy remission, Avery developed an infection because of his lowered immune system. To fight the infection, a lot of blood was used, which gave Mr. DiPinto the idea for the drive.

Avery is currently at home after receiving eight weeks of intensive chemotherapy. He still faces three years of maintenance chemotherapy. Avery is receiving chemotherapy at Dartmouth Hitchcock Hospital and is currently residing at home in Henniker, N.H.

Those wishing to follow Avery's story can follow it at

Although the blood drive is dedicated to Avery, it will benefit the whole community, as Eagle Scout projects must.

All blood types are welcome at the drive, but the current most urgent need is for type O blood. Those donating must be in good health, at least 17 and have had no tattoos within the last year.

Three people can be helped with one pint of blood, Mr. DiPinto said. He added that of all eligible donors, only 5 percent give blood regularly.

The Red Cross depends on donations, as it has to pay between $250-$300 for blood testing before blood can be used by a hospital.

Mr. DiPinto's goal for the drive is 70 pints of blood, which he raised from 65 after receiving 14 people who have already signed up.

"It would be great to receive 100 pints," Mr. DiPinto said.

To get the word out about the drive, Mr. DiPinto has mailed postcards to those who have recently given blood, as well as sent them to all Hubbardston registered voters.

Mr. DiPinto said leukemia can hit at any age. He said the American Red Cross has been extremely helpful in assisting him with this Eagle Scout project. Also helpful, he continued, were the fellow members of Hubbardston Boy Scout Troop 12 and St. Francis Episcopal Church, who have all offered to help at the blood drive and have also been distributing flyers and posters for the event.

Mr. DiPinto has been a Boy Scout for eight years and is a freshman at Quabbin Regional High School. His pastimes include playing paintball, cycling, skeet shooting and ice fishing. He is hoping to attend college and major in engineering. He will also be a counselor in training at Boy Scout Camp Wanocksett, in Jaffrey, N.H,. this year.

Through the project, Mr. DiPinto said, "I learned a lot about the need for blood and how the blood is used."

Those wishing to donate blood should call Mr. DiPinto at (978)-928-5874 to schedule an appointment.
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Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:May 3, 2007
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