Sixteen year old Gianna Cirella, a junior and goalie on the soccer team at Toll Gate High School in Warwick, faced a challenge much too great to fight without a team. What started out as a sore throat on a Friday afternoon in October turned into being hospitalized by Monday morning.

A smiling Gianna Cirella

Gianna was diagnosed with pneumonia in both lungs and sepsis, an infection in her blood stream. She faced severe complications and relied on several machines to assist with blood circulation and breathing. During her 16-day battle, she needed countless blood and platelet transfusions.

“Gianna would not have survived one day without donations. I have never seen so many bags of blood and platelets. Every day. I hope she brings awareness. I hope she makes people NOT afraid to donate. I hope this shows how very important it is.” ~ Tara Cirella, Gianna’s mom

Gianna’s family and friends say she was one of the most charismatic people you could meet. With a unique sense of humor, she brought laughter and hugs everywhere she went. She was a devoted daughter, sister, friend, student, athlete. Her mom Tara, a regular blood donor herself, is deeply touched by every action someone takes to help all those who still need blood donations. “You are making Gianna’s death matter. Not just to me but to others who can now make a difference. I am beyond thankful for blood donors —  their work, their messages, their support.”

On November 1, Gianna passed away peacefully surrounded by her family. Not every story has a happy ending, but everyone deserves the fighting chance that blood donors give them. When you donate blood, you help keep Gianna’s legacy forever #GiStrong. When you give in her honor, please take a moment to let her family know. Take a selfie or write a quick post and share it on GiStrong’s Memorial Foundation Facebook Page.

Watch Our Tribute to Gianna Cirella