Posts Tagged ‘bone marrow transplant’

The Boeing Corporation Saves Lives

February 21, 2018

David Ivry

Can one even begin to imagine the helplessness of being in a plane thousands of feet in the air when the plane is no longer responding to the control mechanisms? You  – a tiny speck in the vast sky –  and the hitherto dependable controls now no more than bits of disconnected metal and plastic… alone… exposed…powerless. David Ivry, former Israel Ambassador to the United States, the ninth commander of the Israel Air Force and the first director of the Israel’s National Security Council was a man used to being in control. Yet, he tells of his experience in the scenario described above. “It seemed to be all over. Then I remembered I had one chance: the ejection seat. I used it and I was saved.”


Mr. Ivry compares his terrifying experience with the situation of a patient diagnosed with cancer. All the usual forms of treatment have been tried and have failed. There is only one more chance. That is a bone marrow transplant. But it can only be performed if a DNA match can be found. It probably exists somewhere in the world but how does one go about searching among millions of Jews around the globe? And even if it can be done, will a match be found in time? Before the patient’s condition deteriorates and it can no longer be effective? Before it’s too late?

The Boeing Corporation is committed to community responsibility and has invested in many worthwhile charities. Moneys are given each year and, by the end of the year, used up. That is the way of the world. Money is used and no longer exists. “Giving to Ezer Mizion is different,” says David.  “When our financial outlay funds a life-saving transplant, the money isn’t used up. The investment continues to grow. A life is saved. A child will mature. He’ll marry, produce children of his own. Generations. Eternity.”

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The Boeing Donor Pool has saved 8 lives including that of little Ivan.

It was under Mr. Ivry’s leadership as President of Boeing-Israel and Vice-President of Boeing International that Boeing invested in a donor pool in Ezer Mizion’s Bone Marrow Registry. What is a donor pool? For a sum of $30,000, a pool of 600 potential donors is genetically tested. The information remains on the database for decades and is available when a search request comes in for a desperate cancer patient whose last chance to survive is a transplant. When a transplant takes place using a donor whose testing was funded by the pool, the contact is notified with the electrifying words: You have saved a life! The Boeing Donor Pool has already saved eight lives. When the news arrives, an email is sent out and the Boeing office is buzzing with employees running to one another, “Did you hear? Did you hear?”


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The donor’s genetic testing was funded by the Boeing Donor Pool and saved Ivan’s life.

One such notification to Boeing told of a small boy – only three years old.  A little boy who, like little boys around the world, has plans, perhaps of becoming a fireman or a policeman when he grows up. But this little boy was afflicted with a life threatening autoimmune disease and was being treated in Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem.  It never crossed his tiny mind that he may not grow up at all. But his parents knew.  Each time he spoke of the future – when I’m big can I cross the street by myself? – his parents smiled on the outside but cried rivers of tears inside.


David Ivry’s face glows as he tells of this child. The Boeing Donor Pool funded the genetic testing for Oded Zand, a young man in Israel, and it was he that was found to be the perfect genetic match for little Ivan Woloktyok. Because of the generosity of the Boeing team, Ivan will cross the street by himself one day, he’ll learn to ride a two-wheeler and he’ll grow up and become an adult like all little boys should.


Ivan is five now. He’s a healthy, mischievous ball of fire.  He recently was the star of a meeting between his parents, Oded and 2 key Boeing staff members. While the adults embraced with tears of mutual gratitude, Ivan zoomed around the room, not understanding what all the excitement is about. He’s secure, our little Ivan. Secure in the certainty of the future that awaits him. And that’s exactly the way it should be.


Today, Ezer Mizion’s Bone Marrow Registry numbers 889,956 potential donors, thanks to whom 2,711 lifesaving transplants have taken place to date. One of the Registry administrators’ most substantial challenges is raising funds to finance tissue typing of the collected samples, a procedure that demands major resources.


Dr. Bracha Zisser, Director of the Registry: “On the one hand, the Bone Marrow Registry enables everyone to be a partner in saving lives, and, on the other hand, it acts as insurance policy, increasing the chances for anyone we know to obtain a transplant, should the need arise. Mutual responsibility is the essence and guiding principle of Ezer Mizion. Thank you to the Boeing Corporation, to all the personalized donor pools at Ezer Mizion’s registry and to all our individual contributors for their noble partnership in our efforts to save lives.”


Father and Son: A Special Moment

February 9, 2018

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Every father knows the feeling of sharing a special moment with his son. With some, it may be a hole in one at the golf course. With others, the first time drive in the new family Lexus.  For the Katz family, their special moment was very special indeed. They each saved a life.

Itamar is 21 and had registered several years ago with Ezer Mizion’s Bone Marrow Registry. He never expected to actually be called but the call did come and Itamar rose to the occasion. Yes, he was nervous about the procedure but when he thought of what would happen if he refused, it was a no-brainer. “It wasn’t as bad as I envisioned. Somewhat draining but nothing in comparison to what I achieved. I actually saved the life of another Jew!” He was still riding high on the waves of his achievement when another call came on the family phone. “I’m calling from Ezer Mizion. Is Professor Gideon Katz available?” The professor was abroad at the time but things moved fast and contact was made. Back home again, he and his son would glance at each other. No words were necessary. Father and son would be sharing an experience that defies description.


Professor Katz is   head of the State of Israel Studies department at Ben Gurion University in Beersheva.  Gideon had registered with Ezer Mizion ten years ago during a recruitment drive at the university. His name was placed on the database and there he assumed it would remain… just one of the close to a million registrants that make up Ezer Mizion’s Bone Marrow Registry. A Jewish cancer patient had been told that her only chance to live is a transplant. If a genetic match could be found, she would be cured. If not, … That’s when the Registry database of 885,264 potential donors was searched.  Like a lottery machine, the computer stopped at the file of Professor Katz. Gideon was that DNA match. If he would agree, he could save her life. Not for one moment did he hesitate and so, for the first time in the history of Ezer Mizion’s Bone Marrow Registry, father and son each merited to save a Jewish life.

Bone marrow transplants are used as therapy for about 100 different illnesses, including leukemia, Hodgkin’s disease, diseases of the blood, and enzyme deficiencies. These diseases destroy bone marrow, which contains the stem cells responsible for manufacturing blood cells. For people with diseased or damaged bone marrow, a transplant from a genetically compatible donor is often the only hope for recovery.

Transplant recipients must be nearly identical matches with their donors for tissue-type markers known as HLA proteins. Although close family members offer the best chance of an HLA match, only 30% of patients find matches within their families. Because the number of possible HLA combinations is incredibly vast, the likelihood of two unrelated individuals matching each other is very low. Bone marrow transplant from unrelated yet HLA-matched donors is possible due to the existence of large computerized international registries of potential bone marrow donors.

Chances for a match increase significantly if the patient and potential donor share the same ethnic background. Because Jews in the past lived in isolated communities, they are today more genetically related to each other than to non-Jews. There are over 10 million potential donors registered in the International Bone Marrow Registry (BMDW) based in Holland, but only a very small percentage are of Jewish descent.

Ezer Mizion established its registry in 1998 to increase the pool of Jewish potential donors. Israel, home to an entire spectrum of Jewish communities and ethnic backgrounds, is the natural location for a Jewish bone marrow registry.

Today, the Ezer Mizion Bone Marrow Donor Registry is the largest Jewish registry in the world. Because Jewish patients generally require Jewish bone marrow donors, the registry is a vital resource for thousands of sick Jews and serves an insurance policy for worldwide Jewry.


45 Years of Tears

December 6, 2017

pr-phoneAt Ezer Mizion’s busy office, the phone does not stop ringing. At times, it is the ubiquitous telemarketing call. Other calls are requesting information. Some calls can be as brief as several sentences but leave the staff member stunned. Like this one received by Chani :

“Where were you 45 years ago? When my son needed a bone marrow transplant? I took my two daughters to be tested at UCLA but they were not a genetic match.” Then her voice faltered, “Before we could try more people, my son— my son—- my son died.” Her voice broke but she tried to continue speaking, “I want to give you a donation. Your organization is so important.  I only wish it had been in existence 45 years ago. Perhaps he could have been saved.” She was overcome by tears and hung up the phone.   The pain of losing a child does not disappear, even after 45 yrs.

That’s why Ezer Mizion’s Bone Marrow Registry was founded. For people like this lady’s son. Jewish people who need a DNA match to save their lives. Ezer Mizion receives calls from oncology clinics around the world   and has saved over 2600 lives with genetically matching donors from its 850,000 registrants.

Matan was only ten years old when he was diagnosed with leukemia. A diagnosis of MDS soon followed. By age twelve, his bone marrow was deteriorating and it was soon obvious that without a transplant, he would not turn 13. Would a DNA match be found? In time?

Matan was one of the fortunate ones.   Yifat was a newly married young girl.  Years ago, she had registered with Ezer Mizion’s Bone Marrow Registry, never expecting to actually be called. But the call did come.  It was she who could save the life of Matan, a young boy who would later mature and marry, producing his own children. “I went insane with joy,” she describes the day she received the call. “Of course I said yes.”

Yifat, now expecting her first child, met Matan for the first time recently. “I’m feeling great!” Matan fairly shouted when he was asked. “Of course, I plan to go to the simcha when Matan’s baby is born. We’re sister and brother now. Her blood is in me.”

It is no longer 45 years ago when patient after patient died while waiting for a DNA match to be found.  Matan had a lovely Bar Mitzvah celebration. It was tears of joy that were shed by his parents as they thought to themselves, “What if there had been no Ezer Mizion?”

For further info: 718 853 8400     5225 New Utrecht Ave Bk NY 11219


Hole In One

November 23, 2017

2017 Golf Closest to the Pin AK7X9484 (1)

Winner of Closest to Pin

Eight times! For eight years, Ezer Mizion has held its annual Thanksgiving Day golf tournament at Caesaria Golf Club in Israel. Golf aficionados gather for a day under the azure skies, each stroke being a strike against cancer. Many travel to Israel from abroad to join in the camaraderie of the event.

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Winners of First Place Gold

The committee works for months to ensure the success of the event, knowing that Jewish lives depend on raising sufficient funds. All proceeds benefit Ezer Mizion’s International Jewish Bone Marrow Registry, creating a pool of potential donors whose DNA testing has been funded by the Hole in One Donor Pool. From this group of potential donors, twenty seven transplants have taken place! That’s twenty-seven lives of cancer patients around the globe. Twenty-seven families whose anguish was overturned to joy when a DNA match was found!

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Winners of 2nd Place Gold

One hundred and seventy revved up for the 2017 event. A heartfelt Thank You Committee Members:

Committee Heads: Simeon Chiger, Mark Hasleton, Ran Sahar, Stephen Weil, Herman Weiss

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Winners of 3rd Place Gold

Committee: Eitan Arusy, Iris Barak, Jonathan Binke, Sandra Brown, Ami Elkus, Alan Feinblum, Jaques Garih, Daniel Goldman, Mark Hasleton, Jonathan Klahr, Jeremy Lustman, Yehoshua Shpunder, Adam Snukal, Laurie Spieler, Josh Wolf

Congratulations to the winners:


GOLD Division, 1st Place Didi Golan Limor Sidi Kent Paisley
GOLD Division, 2nd Place Alex Wayman Andrey Stotsky Simon Berkeley Yossi Miller
GOLD Division, 3rd Place Gary Bell Bradley Ellerine Alan Feinblum
SILVER Division, 1st Place Mark Tobin Scott Tobin Stu Schrader Seth Cogan
SILVER Division, 2ndPlace Eliezer Shkedi Tzvika Baron Roi Ben Yami Meir Shamir
SILVER Division, 3rd Place Nachum Goldstein Neil Rubinstein Barry Korzen
Longest Drive, Women Limor Sidi
Longest Drive, Men Stu Schrader
Straightest Drive Avi Alter
Closest to the Pin Simmie Chigger
Par 3, 1st Place Gadi Dolinsky Liav Salomon Nir Shain Nimrod Avraham
Par 3, 2nd Place Jeremy Lustman Bini Maryles Mark Rosenbaum Jacob Katz
Par 3, Putting Champion Paul Freud
Par 3, Longest Drive Jacob Katz




October 18, 2017

Moriel MatalonMoriel Matalon is Managing Partner at Israel’s well known Gornitzky Law Office. In addition, he is chairman of Unicef- Israel, the local branch of the UN’s International Children’s Emergency Fund. He had climbed high on the ladder of success but his position did not intimidate the fiend named Cancer who arrived uninvited as a nightmare set to destroy Moriel’s life and that of his family. They were devastated. The doctors held out only one ray of hope: a bone marrow transplant. Would a genetically matching donor be found? In time? Before…? Mr. Matalon was among the fortunate ones. Avi Cohen, one among over 850,000 potential Ezer Mizion donors, was that match. It’s a year and a half later and a healthy Moriel met Avi for the first time. “It was exhilarating to find myself in the same room with a man whose life I personally had saved,” exclaimed Avi. Moriel hugged his benefactor in a wordless expression of gratitude for the gift that can never be paid back. As grateful as he and his family were, there remained the ‘missing piece’: the feeling of no possible way of repaying the unrepayable.

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Stem cells being removed from blood of donor to be transplanted into patient

All that changed recently when Moriel re-entered the hospital doors, a place of so many memories. This time it was not with the trepidation of a very questionable future but to accompany his nephew who would be on the  donating  side, whose marrow will save the life of another Jew. The unrepayable was about to be paid back. The circle was being closed.

Rochie Meth, a key Ezer Mizion employee, writes: My everyday reality takes me through Ezer Mizion’s various departments and branches. There, I encounter a large number of sick people ­– people with physical maladies, mental illness, mobility impairments, and mental disabilities. Many days, I come home and cry over everything I’ve seen over the course of the day – the unending struggle that these patients and their family face! Their fear and anxiety over the future! The pressure of having to function in the midst of this volcanic eruption…

For many of them, illness knocks at the door as a totally unexpected surprise, interrupting rosy dreams and a marvelous life routine. For others, illness is a long, drawn-out agony, what people call “an unending chain of troubles.”

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Giving…receiving…giving with love

For all of them, it hurts, causes an upheaval, and is very, very difficult! Yet, in the midst of all this suffering, there are wonderful individuals among Ezer Mizion staff and volunteers, who have joined as one, warm, embracing family to envelop these people with love, with physical and emotional support, a family that thinks constantly how to make it easier for people to better deal with their health challenges.

Our greatest difficulty here at Ezer Mizion is when we are forced to say a final “good-bye” to those dear people, whom we loved very much…those that, in spite of all of our efforts, didn’t make it to the happy ending we had envisioned for them

However, our greatest joy is to see others who emerge from the sea of pain and come join us now as healthy volunteers to be on the giving end. Thank G-d, there are many of them!

Bone marrow recipientsbone marrow donors…people in need…people who give…receivers who regain their health and become givers…Ezer Mizion:

Because of You My Children Have an Abba

September 6, 2017

pr pix bmr cells168_ne_photo_b90aaIsn’t every child supposed to have both an Abba and an Ima? Two year old Naomi and her baby brother almost didn’t. Now their mother stood there in tears of joy when she met Aryeh. “Because of you, my children have an Abba,” she cried over and over again.

Who is Aryeh? We’ll let Abba tell that story.

“I was a strong, young man with my whole life ahead of me. I was successful, ambitious and ready to take on the world. Nothing could stop me, so I thought. That was before I heard of those three little letters that could destroy the strongest of men: AML. I was diagnosed four years ago and my life fell apart. I couldn’t even leave the house without assistance.  I felt helpless. Like a newborn infant. A successful day was being able to eat a portion of food and keep it down. My days centered around chemo treatments and blood levels. My future, that had looked so bright, now might not even be…at all. A bone marrow transplant was advised. My doctor contacted Ezer Mizion, the largest Jewish registry worldwide, to see if there was a genetic match for me. I was one of the fortunate ones. They searched through a database that had over 850,000 registered and one was perfect for me.

But things began to look up. The blood levels began to look better. I was told I wouldn’t need the transplant after all. No one can imagine what I felt like. Like ropes that had been tying me to the walls were suddenly loosened. I was free! I could go on with life! I began studying for a B.A. in Machine Engineering, something I had always been interested in, and the world looked bright again.  There would be a future. I would be part of my children’s lives. The sun shone!

Two months later, I was deep into my studies when the bomb fell. My count was up again. The bone marrow transplant would be necessary. Without it…without it…I would…

That’s when I met Aryeh. Not really. I met his bag of stem cells. The hospital had cancelled his first appointment when my count had been good but he dropped everything when he heard that I did need the transplant and made a second appointment.

International law does not allow us to meet for a year or two so the picture in my mind of this very special human being was that of a bag of stem cells. I’m healthy now. We met for the first time, appropriately at Ezer Mizion. “It’s you,” I whispered. “ You have a face, a voice…” and then we fell into each other’s arms, two grown men weeping with deep joy as my wife stood there , her face streaming with tears, crying over and over again, “Because of you, my children have an Abba!”

For further info:              5225 New Utrecht Ave Bk NY 11219             718 853 8400

August 9, 2017

pr pix bmr cells168_ne_photo_b90aaAt 61, Betzalel N. was just beginning grandfatherhood. He had three children and several tiny grandchildren. His drawer was filled with lollipops and his mind was filled with future plans: trips to the zoo with Grandpa, graduations, dancing at their weddings…until the day it all came crashing down. Leukemia. There would be no holding the hand of a grandchild as she gingerly feeds a baby goat at the zoo. Weddings would take place but there would be no glowing Zeidy to dance with the chassan (groom). It was over. He’d be gone. The doctors had tried everything and there was only one procedure left. A bone marrow transplant. If a genetically matching donor could be found somewhere in the world, he’d have a chance. If not, …

Genetics is based on ethnicity and Jews will match other Jews. Ezer Mizion is the largest Jewish registry in the world and has saved over 2400 lives. But even the largest registry is not large enough and for too many, no match is found. Would there be one for Betzalel?

Many years before, Yoni H. had registered with Ezer Mizion’s International Jewish Bone Marrow Registry. He had been a young man, still in his late teens. Too young to fully realize what that registration meant. Now his cell phone rang. “This is Ezer Mizion calling. You have been found to be…” Yoni was a mature man now. He fully understood what was at stake. He had questions about the procedure, of course, but never for a moment did he entertain the possibility of saying no.

Yoni and Betzalel met recently at Ezer Mizion. Betzalel brought his children and grandchildren who all wanted to meet the angel who had saved the life of a person he didn’t even know. Perhaps their next meeting will be at the zoo, helping the little ones to feed the goats and sharing the joy of being alive.

Mordechai H. was only 70 when diagnosed with lymphoma. He was active, leading a full life, never thinking that it could come to an end very soon. His family was very worried but he himself didn’t allow his mind come near the truths that had devastated his family. He couldn’t think about it. He just couldn’t. He was paralyzed with fear.

His physicians were aggressive in their battle for Mordechai’s life. Chemo. Various treatments. Nothing helped. In a saga similar to that of Betzalel, with one last chance to survive, Mordechai’s life was saved when a successful bone marrow transplant took place, donated by David P., another Ezer Mizion hero. Two years later, Mordechai enveloped David in a giant bear hug, now allowing his mind to dwell on what could have been had David not taken the few minutes to register so many years before.

For further info:              5225 New Utrecht Ave Bk NY 11219             718 853 8400

The Other End of the World?

July 12, 2017

people helping people around globe“But he’s at the other end of the world!”

“No problem,” said the experienced Ezer Mizion staff member. “Just watch.”

Here’s the story. A woman with cancer was in need of a bone marrow transplant to save her life. She needed it asap. Now! Not in a few months. Eldad had been identified by the Ezer Mizion Bone Marrow Registry as a genetic match but further testing was needed. Simple. A few tubes of blood and the test will be done. But what if the potential donor is happily vacationing in Cancun, Mexico? Do we wait till he returns? And take a chance on the patient’s condition changing for the worse? Do we take a chance on another person’s life?!

The Registry staff member contacted another Ezer Mizion division, Linked to Life which operates a What’s App program around the globe. Lights flashed. Cell phones buzzed. A Linked to Life member responded that he is in Cancun and planning to travel for New York that day. The blood was drawn by a local lab and transported to NY by the L2L member. Now, Ronit , office manager for the CEO of El Al in New York and another Linked to Life volunteer, came on the scene. Ronit contacted Yoram, director of El Al representatives in the U.S. Yoram got the head of the station at Kennedy Airport, and security officer Tal involved in the operation. On Thursday, after receiving the test tubes from Mexico via the first L2L volunteer, El Al representatives in N.Y. traveled to Israel and handed over the precious test tubes to Ezer Mizion.

The other side of the world? No problem when good-hearted Jews around the globe are linked together.

Based in Israel, L2L receives hundreds of calls daily. Come join us at the dispatch center. A call just came in. A grandmother, accompanied by her daughter, needs ride to the clinic.  The volunteer that responded later contacted the Ezer Mizion office to say thank you “These are real mentschen. They didn’t stop apologizing for taking my time. They were so grateful. .The grandmother is past the age of 90. At the time of the Holocaust, she was 17 years old. She had been through Auschwitz, work camps and Bergen-Belsen. She told me about her mother and little sister who were murdered in Auschwitz. ‘When I close my eyes, I don’t ‘just remember’ things; I literally see them happening.’ This tiny lady didn’t give up. She went on to establish a family which now consists of children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren and continues to give and give. “I broke my arm recently and for a period, I couldn’t bake cakes for my grandchildren’s families. It made me sad but I’m back ‘in business’ now. As they opened the car door at the clinic amid a flurry of humble thank-you’s to me, I thanked Hashem for the zchus of having such a diamond in my car.


Another buzz at 1:30 AM. This one an emergency. A woman was unable to breathe and required immediate assistance. An ambulance had arrived and determined that hospital treatment was needed. But getting her there was impossible due to her wide girth. A large stretcher was needed. Ezer Mizion was contacted.  Does anyone in your Linked to Life Group have one? In moments I was wide awake and dressed. Together with the paramedics, we lifted the patient onto my stretcher and transported her to the hospital in time to receive the treatment she needed.

Alone? Never! No Jew is ever alone when his fellow Jews are Linked to Life.

Like to join? SMS: 011 972 52 580 8936

For further info:       5225 New Utrecht Ave Bk NY 11219                               718 853 8400

Many of You Have Asked…

May 4, 2017

Does Ezer Mizion provide transplants to Israel residents only?


people helping people around globeEzer Mizion receives Search requests form oncology clinics around the globe. DNA matching is based on ethnics. As the largest Jewish Registry in the world, Ezer Mizion is the natural address for an oncology clinic working with a Jewish patient in Europe, Russia, South Africa, South America, Australia, Canada and the US.


In April 2017, 14 of 31 transplants were done for Israeli residents and 17 for countries around the world including 6 in US and Canada.


Did the partnership with the IDF create any significant change in the success of finding DNA matches?


idf-celebration-2016-aDue to IDF recruits being young and healthy, they remain on the database for decades, thus greatly increasing the chances of eventually being found to be a match for a patient. In addition, they come from highly varied backgrounds resulting in much increased representation among minority ethnic groups.


In April 2017, 18 of the 21 transplants funded by donor pools are IDF recruits, some having been inducted and joined the registry just a; few months ago.


How long, on the average, does it take for a new Bone Marrow Donor Pool to receive the at long awaited letter: You have saved a life!


There can, of course, be no guarantees. In April of 2017, 4 of the 21 transplants funded by donor pools were opened within the last half year.

The See-Saw Remains on Up

April 26, 2017

DNA 3Everyone dreams about it. Very few ever have the opportunity. I was one of those very few. True, I didn’t jump into the ocean and save a child from drowning or dash into a burning building to save a baby but I did save a life. A forty-year-old cancer patient had only one chance to survive—a bone marrow transplant. A genetic match is vital for success and I was that genetic match. An Ezer Mizion staff member asked me if I would do it. Would I do it???! How could I not do it?! How could I live the rest of my life knowing that because of a little discomfort, a little inconvenience, a young woman was prevented from living the rest of hers?

Thus said N.D. a law student residing in Israel.

Plans were made. Appointments were set. I was given a run-down of what to expect and all was set to go until I received the phone call. Ezer Mizion thanked me for agreeing to donate but was cancelling the procedure. The woman’s condition had taken a turn for the worse and she was not in any condition to receive the transplant.

I was crushed. By this time, I was identifying with this anonymous person as if she were a close member of my family. And she would be. It would be my blood that would be coursing through her veins. And now it was not to be. I pictured her lying on her death bed with her family gathered around her. I wanted to be there with them. I wanted to hug her and tell her I’m so sorry. Instead I just stood there, still holding the phone. Numb. I read the obituaries for weeks after that, wondering at each entry, “Was that her?”

I was very involved in my university courses at the law school. It was in the middle of major exams when Ezer Mizion appeared once again on my display screen. “Your patient’s condition has improved. She can handle a transplant now but it must be done immediately. Are you available to begin the prep?”

The test I had studied all night for. The notes I had just copied for next week’s test. Grades. Reports… All meaningless now. All I wanted to know is what time I should be there.

My mother was even more excited than I was. She had had cancer at a similar age and is healthy now. She felt that by her daughter donating marrow, she would have a chance to ‘give back’.

At Schneider’s Hospital, I was told I would need 4-5 days of injections to increase the stem cells in my body. On the big day, my blood would be drawn, the stem cells separated from it, then returned to my body. This would continue all day until enough stem cells had accumulated. Then the little ‘bag of life’ would be infused into my ‘blood-sister’. We would be in the same hospital but we would not meet due to international law. Oh, how I longed to hold her hand during the procedure! But I would have to be patient. If all goes well, we’d be allowed to meet in two years.

I can’t deny that the injection period was uncomfortable but every ache was erased   when I watched them bring that little bag to its destination.

I was told that we were a 100% DNA match. Very unusual, they said. Now I lie in bed wondering who my DNA twin is. An unknown cousin perhaps? In one year, I am allowed to ask about her condition. Just knowing that she is healthy will be enough for me. And, if she is willing, in two years, I may meet the person who is alive because I didn’t say no.