July 22, 2018 | ° F

Rutgers graduate passes away after year-long battle with leukemia

DeVeitro worked with two non-profits and coordinated a bone marrow drive earlier this semester

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Rutgers graduate Gianna DeVeitro recently passed away after battling leukemia for a year. She worked endlessly to help others through organizations such as DKMS and Kier's Kidz.

After courageously battling leukemia for almost one year, Rutgers Class of 2016 graduate and former manager of the Rutgers women’s basketball team Gianna DeVeitro passed away last weekend.

In July, only a few months after graduating with a degree in journalism and media studies, DeVeitro was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia.

DeVeitro’s medical condition never kept her from fighting for the benefit of others.

In January, she teamed up with two non-profits dedicated to helping those afflicted with cancer and blood diseases, DKMS and Kier’s Kidz, and hosted a Bone Marrow Donor Registry Drive.

DKMS is an organization that helps people diagnosed with blood diseases find donors who match their genetic makeup. DeVeitro herself was able to find a match for a bone marrow transplant through DKMS, and she knew how important drives like the one she held are.

Jordan Segal, the donor recruitment coordinator for DKMS, said that he and those from his organization who worked with DeVeitro are deeply saddened by the news of her passing.

“Her positive attitude and great spirit was an inspiration to all of us and will never be forgotten," he said.

In the coming months DKMS will be holding blood drives in DeVeitro’s honor, he said.

Around 70 percent of those suffering from blood cancer are unable to find a match within their family and are subsequently forced to rely on a benevolent stranger to donate, according to DKMS’s website, which is why blood drives are so necessary. 

"At DKMS we work endlessly to help patients, like Gianna, find their bone marrow match. It is our mission to diversify the bone marrow registry to help ensure every blood cancer patient has a second chance at life,” Segal said.

Jake Comito, a 2017 Rutgers Business School graduate and president of Rutgers NO MORE, said DeVeitro was a warrior.

DeVeitro was an avid supporter of Comito’s organization and their lives crossed paths in many ways, he said.

Her activism and involvement in the Rutgers community and beyond were not done to build her reputation, but instead to demonstrate her desire to help anyone and everyone, Comito said.

“She fought for social justice causes, campaigned with friends and, most notably, hosted events, tournaments and drives to raise money and to spread awareness for anything that she could,” he said.

C. Vivian Stringer, the head coach of the Rutgers women’s basketball team, worked closely with DeVeitro during her time at the position of team manager and was involved with the drive that she helped host in January.

“Gianna was a brilliant young person who had all the world in front of her. Throughout her illness, she always managed a smile and showed so much strength and courage beyond what anyone could imagine,” Stringer said in an interview with scarletknights.com. “I am grateful for the time we managed to spend together. Our thoughts are with Gianna's family and friends.”

During her senior year at Rutgers, DeVeitro completed an internship at Kravis Children's Hospital at Mount Sinai, known for cancer and transplantation, where she helped child patients adjust to their long-term hospital stays, according to DKMS.

“Students should internalize her qualities because they were equally self-fulfilling and beneficial to society,” Comito said.

Stephen Weiss is a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore majoring in philosophy. He is an associate news editor for The Daily Targum.

Stephen Weiss

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