NEW CASTLE, Pennsylvania (MyValleyTributes) – 1960s heart and lung machine pioneer, Paula Louise (Griffith) Scala, has died at the age of 75 in New Castle, Pennsylvania. She passed on Saturday, December 12, 2020, at UPMC Jameson Care Center Skilled Nursing Home.
Paula was born July 28, 1945, in New Castle, to the late Paul and Marian (Nelson) Griffith.
She graduated from New Castle Senior High School in 1963.
Paula wed Gene Scala on January 28, 1967, in Saint Mary’s Roman Catholic Church (now Holy Spirit Parish of New Castle).
At age 14, Paula was one of a select few to receive a life-altering operation to repair a hole between two ventricles in her heart. The procedure included use of a then-experimental heart and lung machine. She was the only patient to survive her test group of 20 patients and not expected to live past the age of 17. Her father arranged for 50 friends from the B&O Railroad to ride a school bus to the Cleveland Clinic, in order to donate blood for her operation there. This year, she celebrated the 60th anniversary of the March 1, 1960 operation.
Paula would go on to become Miss Heart Association, graduate high school, then attend business school in Sharon, Pennsylvania to become an orthodontist assistant. Later, she met her husband-to-be. Together they had four children and grew a glass-engraving business in the North Hills area of New Castle.
She is survived by her four children, Travis Scala of Plano, Texas, Rosalind (Ken) Holloway of Franklin, Tennesse, Roxanne (Tim) Tuinstra of Johnstown, Pennsylvania and Joseph Scala of New Castle; a brother, Jimmy (Sue) Griffith of Erie, Pennsylvania; a sister, Sandy (Charles) Robison of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and five grandchildren, Teddy and Jake Holloway and Sophia, Patrick and Elena Tuinstra.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Catholic Charities and the American Heart Association.
Due to circumstances presented by the pandemic, services will not be held.
Arrangements handled by J. Bradley McGonigle Funeral Home and Crematory, Inc.
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