Four Year Old Hero

Little four-year-old Dotan Meir-Zavlud is a veteran warrior. He has already managed to win a battle with cancer one time and to recover from complex heart surgery to correct a rare heart defect. Now, he is fighting for his life for the third time, after doctors recently discovered that leukemia (blood cancer) has once again spread throughout his small body. Dotan smiles at the Ezer Mizion staff members as they hold his hand throughout his battle.

“Just two weeks ago, we celebrated his fourth birthday, and my wish for him was that life should love him as much as he loves life,” said his mother, Galia. “Dotan is a child who loves to sing and dance. But instead of playing in kindergarten with children his age, he sits in the hospital ward and “cares for” his dolls, giving them injections, transfusions and blood tests – everything he sees the doctors doing to him.

Dotan’s only chance for survival is a bone marrow transplant. To be successful, donor and patient must match genetically. Fortunately, the angels at Ezer Mizion’s Bone Marrow Registry succeeded in finding him a matching donor. “It is our hope that Dotan will be one of so many Jewish cancer patients around the world whose lives have been saved by Ezer Mizion’s International Jewish Bone Marrow Registry.”  The transplant was done October 20 in the hematological ward of Rambam Hospital in Haifa. Everyone is hoping and praying that it will be a success.

“Dotan is a real hero,” said his father Amir. “During the last two years, he went through horrible illnesses that other people might experience in a hundred years. But he refused to give up. He always wanted to laugh and horse around.” The first time the cancer appeared in Dotan’s body, he was two years old. His nursery teacher noticed that his throat glands seemed to be protruding too much. Their family doctor sent them straight to Rambam Hospital, where tests showed that Dotan was ill with an especially aggressive form of leukemia. Immediately afterwards, he began radiation and chemotherapy. A year later, he was completely recovered from the illness.

Just a few months passed by, and Dotan began to feel ill. He suffered from headaches and vomiting. Dotan was sent to the Rambam Hospital once again, where they discovered a rare defect in his heart that necessitated emergency surgery to save his life. Because of the complexity of the operation, Dotan was transferred to the Tel Hashomer Hospital, which specializes in heart surgery. “The defect was so rare that it was not even documented in professional medical literature. It may have been a result of the leukemia’s side effects,” explained Professor David Misheli, head of the Pediatric Cardiology department in Tel Hashomer.

According to Professor Misheli, Dotan was in mortal danger, but thanks to the emergency heart surgery, he has resumed almost complete normal functioning. 

Just a half year passed, and the nightmare was back, for the third time.

“This is a very aggressive strain of leukemia. Once we saw that the cancer had spread to his head, we decided that a bone marrow transplant was the protocol to follow and that is was urgent,” explained the head of the Pediatric Hematology department in Rambam, Professor Miriam Ben Harush.  Ezer Mizion was contacted immediately.

The situation is compounded by the fact that one of Dotan’s grandfathers died of cancer, and the other – of a rare heart disease. Understandably, the deadly combination terrifies Dotan’s parents. “At the most difficult moments, when we sit in the room and cry, Dotan flashes his big smile, gives us a hug, and imbues in us the hope that everything will be all right,” added Amir. “We pray for him all the time, that the transplant should be successful and that he will survive and get back on his feet. We want to see him grow up, healthy and happy.

“Ezer Mizion has been at our side every step of the way. We could not have survived the ordeal without them. Their compassion, their practical assistance and their willingness to move mountains to find that life-saving genetic match all show that Ezer Mizion is much more than an organization. No request was too big or too petty. They understood our needs and their staff and volunteers were the rock that we leaned on when we felt that we couldn’t go on. And now they, together with us, await the final verdict.

In this kind of battle, the only scenario is Dotan’s total victory. There are no other alternatives.”

For further info: www.ezermizion.org

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