Posts Tagged ‘bone marrow’

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.

Watching the Grandchildren Grow Up…Together: A DNA Success Story

April 5, 2017

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How does one say ‘Thank You’ for saving a life?!

her early sixties, Chava was a young grandmother to seven grandchildren. She was looking forward to many milestones in the future until she discovered that her future was very uncertain indeed. Twelve years ago, she had been diagnosed with lymphoma. A self-transplant of stem cells resulted in a cure and the nightmare seemed to be over until several years later the disease returned.  Would there be a cure this time? Only if a transplant can be performed using the stem cells of a genetically matching donor. The procedure was not difficult but finding this mysterious donor whose DNA corresponded to hers seemed to be nothing short of miraculous. He could be any place where Jews of her ethnic group have settled…South America, Canada, US, Australia, Europe. Anywhere. The first step was to contact Ezer Mizion, the largest Jewish registry in the world with its database of over 800,000 potential donors.  And, lo and behold, there he was, right there in Israel.

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Will a life saving DNA match be found?

Meir Pulver (43) spends his days protecting Israel’s population. He is Chief Superintendent of Israel’s Police Force. But that was not enough for this caring father of three. He wanted to do more. When he came across a request to join Ezer Mizion’s International Jewish Bone Marrow Registry, he didn’t hesitate. An opportunity to save a life? Of course. Who would not want to join? It would just take a little bit of his time. And so a few minutes filling out paperwork, a painless cheek swab and he was on his way.  Little did he realize that in only a short while, he would receive the momentous phone call: You have a chance to save a life!

There was further testing. In one home in Israel the air was electric. Would Meir truly be able to save a Jewish life? And in the other home, tensions ran high. Would a matching donor ever be found? And then the phone rang. In two homes. Almost simultaneously. Yes! Yes! An excellent DNA match.

Now things began to move quickly and it was not long before Meir’s cells were circulating in Chava’s veins. “Two days before my birthday, I found out that the stem cell donation I’d received had been accepted and my body had started producing its own cells,” she relates. “I felt as if I was reborn.” Chava’s husband is thrilled to have his wife back once again healthy and in great spirits after the very agonizing period they both went through. Together they look forward to watching their grandchildren grow up.  Meir’s father had recently passed away and he felt doubly blessed at being able to both save a life and provide merit for his father’s soul during the first year of mourning.

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Ezer Mizion: Where cancer is being eradicated- one life at a time

International law does not allow donor and recipient to meet until after one year and so the two families waited, counting the days and yearning to express themselves. The meeting took place a few weeks ago in the Ezer Mizion Cancer Support Building. Chava’s family gathered and began watching the door. Soon it opened. The two groups were drawn to each other like magnets. How could it be otherwise when the blood of one flows through the other. “We met an amazing person. A humble, noble young man,” said Chava’s family.

Ezer Mizion’s International Bone Marrow Donor Registry was established about 20 years ago  and today, includes 841,356 potential donors. Thanks to the Registry, 2,350 lifesaving transplants have already taken place. We’re one family with Jews around the world contributing funds to do the DNA testing, enabling every person to be a partner in saving human lives. This is our essence – each Jew responsible for his neighbor.

Czechoslovakia? No problem…

February 22, 2017

helping-hands“I’m sorry. He won’t be back in the office until a week from Tuesday. Please call then.” A typical response. Professional. No complaints. We all understand that being out of the office means being unavailable for work-related matters and we don’t expect him to interrupt his golf game or his very important meeting in China to answer our questions. However, when it comes to saving a life, Ezer Mizion will not accept such a response. What happened? Here’s the story.

Ezer Mizion’s Bone Marrow Registry has saved the lives of over 2000 patients around the globe. Recently, a call came in from Schneider’s Hospital that a six year old child needed a transplant as soon as possible.  Is there a genetic match available? A search was done. Success. Among the 800,000 registrants on the database, an excellent DNA match was found. The potential donor was contacted. She’ll be happy to donate but there’s one problem. The next level of testing must be done asap and she is currently in Brno in the Czech Republic. “Can I make an appointment with the lab for when I return in a few weeks?”  A natural response. Polite. Professional. The Ezer Mizion staff member could simply note on records: Donor out of country. Testing will be done when returns.  The file would then be closed pending her return. The patient? Perhaps his condition would still be such that he can benefit from the transplant. Perhaps not. Ezer Mizion was not going to take that chance.bmr tubes

Linked to Life, another division of Ezer Mizion that utilizes a What’s App program to make vital contacts worldwide, was called. Thousands of screens lit up while the test tubes were being prepared. ‘We need a volunteer to drive vital test tubes from Petach Tikva to the airport in Tel Aviv to meet someone going on the 3:50 flight to Vienna. In moments, a volunteer responded and the tubes were on their way. While he was driving, screens lit up again looking for someone scheduled to be on the flight to take the tubes. Bzzzz. Responding. Am at airport at Gate 123. I’ll take it.  Another Linked to Life volunteer was waiting at the Prague airport and drove the package to the Chabad House. The head of the Chabad House drove through the night to Brno and used his contacts to have the clinic opened in the middle of the night to draw blood from the potential donor. More clicks while the now-filled test tubes were making their way back to Brno. Anyone traveling from Prague to Israel on next flight? By the next morning, another Ezer Mizion Linked to Life volunteer was waiting in the airport at Tel Aviv to transport the tubes to the Bone Marrow Registry in Petach Tikvah. Less than twenty-four hours. Mission accomplished.

Living in the US and like to join Linked to Life? SMS: 011 972 52 580 8936

The Bubble Baby

February 15, 2017

 

pr-bmr-inbar-ronen-bubble-baby-w-out-mother-ok-to-useThere she sat blowing bubbles for her pre-schooler. Together with several neighborhood children, he ran after them on his chubby legs reaching out to touch the effervescent, multi-hued balls of magic, then watching, mesmerized, as they mysteriously made their way, flying up, up, up to never-neverland.

 

Young children are fascinated by bubbles. Yet certainly no child would want to live in one. As her tiny son ran on the grass with his little friends, she offered up a fervent t’filla of gratitude.   Up until recently, her son was called the Bubble Baby.  He was forced to live in a virtual ‘bubble’, a completely sterile environment, to save his young life. 

 

Ari* was born with SCID, a severe immunodeficiency syndrome. It was essential that Ari not be exposed to normal day-to-day bacteria, allowing him almost no contact with others including family members. A simple cold can be fatal. The soothing hug that only a Mommy could give, the delight of swooping down the slide at the local playground – all this was unknown to Ari. His world consisted of only hospitals, doctors and scary needles. His future?   Babies like Ari born with this rare genetic disorder usually do not survive their early years due to severe, recurrent infections.

 

“A bone marrow transplant could save his life,” his doctor announced at one of the numerous medical meetings.

 

“Give it to him! As soon as possible!” his parents jumped from their seats, grabbing hold of the lifeline that was offered to them.

 

“I wish it were that simple,” the doctor continued. “You see, to be successful, the cells have to come from a donor whose DNA matches Ari’s. Bone marrow transplants are used for many diseases including leukemia and many other forms of cancer and they literally save lives. But nothing can be done until we find a genetic match and so far…there is none.  We’ve put in a request to Ezer Mizion. They are the largest Jewish registry and since you are Jewish and genetics is based on ethnicity, we hope a match will be found there. They have over 830,000 people registered. Pray that we find the perfect one.”   

 

Ari’s parents didn’t have to be told twice to daven. Their tehillim did not leave their side. They understood that a match could mean a normal life for their son and no match? No match would mean…

 

One day their phone rang. The ring sounded like every other ring. But the voice on the other end – it was ecstatic. It was euphoric. And it said the words they had been davening for. “We found a match!!!”

 

A young woman in her early twenties had registered at Ezer Mizion’s International Bone Marrow Registry together with her friends, never thinking that she would ever actually be called. She had heard how many lives Ezer Mizion has saved. Over two thousand. But she also knew of many people who were still waiting for that life-saving match. And many people for whom it was already too late. And so she and her friends spent ten minutes answering routine questions. Ten minutes that would later save a little child’s life. And his children’s lives. And their children’s lives. Eternity.

 

The former ‘Bubble Baby’ chased another bubble and nearly caught it in his pudgy hands. His sweet, little face mirrored his utter joy.

 

“Thank you, Hashem! Thank you,” his mother whispered.

 

What if there had been no Ezer Mizion? 

 

Tel:718 853 8400        Mail: 5225 New Utrecht Ave Brooklyn NY 11219   Online: http://www.ezermizion.org

 

A Shining Example

February 1, 2017

pr-bmr-lieut-colonel-yossi-cohenFor more than twenty years, Lieutenant Colonel Yossie Cohen has been involved in extensive military operational activity as, until recently, head of the General Staff’s Operations Brigade for the Southern Front. He was engaged in many a battle for his country and it was he who coined the names of operations “Protective Edge” and “Pillar of Defense.” Involved in life and death decisions, the few moments he had spent as a young man ten years before at the Ezer Mizion Registration Station, filling out a one-page form was certainly not in the forefront of his mind.   Not even a blip on his own radar screen, those few moments would later make a major difference to a fellow Jew, a man his own age. What sort of a difference? The difference between being alive for his next birthday or….not. As crucial as his work in the army was, Yossie understands that this recent battle was just as vital. His DNA counterpart had tried the standard treatments of chemo and/or radiation to no avail. His physicians held out only one ray of hope. A bone marrow transplant. If somewhere, someplace in the world a person could be found who genetically matched him and was willing to donate his stem cells, his life could be saved. The cure existed. His physicians knew how to implement it. But, without that genetic match, nothing could be done. And so the cancer patient waited. He prayed. He hoped. He leaped each time the phone rang. He knew the facts. Unless a donor would be found soon, his condition would deteriorate and it would be…too late. “Think positive,” his family told him. And so he tried. But there, in the dark of the night, bad thoughts would come to fore and it was hard to even hope. And then came the phone call. It was an ordinary ring but the voice on the other end was anything but ordinary. It was jubilant. It was triumphant. A match was found! And the donor had agreed to the procedure. Another Ezer Mizion miracle! Lieutenant Colonel   Yossie Cohen was that match.

The procedure was explained to Yossie who did not hesitate a moment. The former Lieutenant Colonel became a private in the battle to save a life, obeying each request made by the Registry to perfection. The preparation. The formalities. And finally the Big Day when his life-giving cells were transferred to the body of another Jew. And then it was over. He had done it. The man would live. Yossie was on a high. He wanted to shout from the rooftops. Instead he settled for a proclamation: “I want everyone to understand that donating bone marrow is a simple procedure. I call upon all members of the Jewish people residing in Israel to join Ezer Mizion’s Registry.”

For further info: 718 853 8400               5225 New Utrecht Ave Bk NY 11219                 718 854 8400

 

 

Saving Lives on the Green

December 14, 2016

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Simmie Chiger and Herman Weiss, the guys that made it happen

Caesaria Golf Course in Israel changes its face every Thanksgiving weekend. A Peter Dye course while remaining enjoyable to the average golfer, it poses an invigorating challenge to the best of players. On each Thanksgiving weekend, however, the challenges consist of so much more than hills and handicaps. Each player enters the course with a sense of purpose. He is there to help save lives. Every stroke is a strike against cancer.

 

The event benefits Ezer Mizion’s International Jewish Bone Marrow Registry which has saved the lives of over 2000 Jews around the globe whose sole chance of survival had been a transplant. A ‘Hole-in-One’ Donor Pool has been created whereby all proceeds of the annual golf event are earmarked for genetic testing for a specific block of potential donors. The committee heads are notified each time a transplant of stem cells by a donor, whose genetic testing was funded by the Pool, takes place. The notification begins with the electrifying words: You have saved a life. To date,16 lives have been saved by the Hole-in-One pool since its inception seven years ago. As if to encourage this year’s participants, three of those sixteen transplants took place in October of 2016.

 

golf-israel-2016-carts-w-logos-15304448_755096737976598_7143135351909858764_oRan Saher, CEO of Maccabi Healthcare excitedly informs all around him, “Today wasn’t only about winning. It was about saving lives! Says Sheldon Shein, Executve Chairman of Hennig Diamonds: Playing in the Ezer Mizion tournament makes you think. You realize that there’s a lot bigger things in life than getting the ball in the hole. By joining the tournament, we can accomplish a ‘hole’ lot. Jackie Mukmelm, CEO and President of MAN Properties, “Just imagine a person who has given up hope and thinks that he will soon be leaving his family forever. Then one day, he receives a phone call   that he never thought he would get. It’s Ezer Mizion and they found a DNA match. He’s going to live! Wow! And to think that we, with our playing here today, accomplished that!

 

Thanks to all of you- those residing in Israel and those who visited Israel from across the ocean- for participating. We look forward to your joining us next year on November 20th, 2017.

 

Congratulations to our 2016 winners.

First Place: Stephane Benguigui, David Dadi, David Fitoussi, Jonathon Ohayon

Second Place: Mark Joffee, Saul Katzman, Neil Rubinstein, David Turner

Third Place: Elizur Agus, Eytan Bar-Chama, Jack Garih, Zev Weissberg

Most Honest Team: Ari Gruenspecht, Aaron Miller, Daniel Rubel, Simmy Zimbalist

 

Ezer Mizion provides services to over 660,000 of Israel’s population annually in addition to its Bone Marrow Registry which saves the lives of Jewish cancer patients the world over.

 

For further info: www.ezermizion.org 5225 New Utrecht Ave Bk NY 11219 718 853 8400

 

 

Bags of Chessed

November 30, 2016

Countless guests converged upon the palatial home of President Rivlin and, the following day, the Hilton, Israel Ballroom to participate in the grand event celebrating the achievements of Ezer Mizion’s International Bone Marrow Registry which has saved 2200 Jewish lives. Requests arrive regularly from 47 countries worldwide. Come join us on an emotional roller coaster as one speaker after another demonstrates its accomplishments.

 

idf-celebration-2016-gThe MC takes the stage. “This evening is dedicated to our heroes. The first was Moshe Shayek who was battling cancer. The only way to save Moshe’s life was with a bone marrow transplant. His friends went from door to door collecting 5000 samples. But, sadly, the hoped-for DNA match wasn’t found, and Moshe died. In gratitude to Ezer Mizion for its assistance, his parents found the inner strength to rise above their personal pain and suggested using the many samples to found a donor registry. Thus was born Ezer Mizion’s International Jewish Bone Marrow Registry. Moshe’s parents have joined us here tonight, full of nachas at what was created in the merit of their son.

 

“Two-year-old Naamah was diagnosed with leukemia. Ezer Mizion rallied to the cause and launched a nationwide campaign. Fifty-five stations were deployed across the country. And it worked! 4384 samples were collected in one day. After an extensive search, the matching donor was found, a soldier. But when the donor’s family was contacted, we discovered the family sitting shiva. The son had just been killed in a terrorist attack. In one critical moment, Naamah’s only hope disappeared. After three years of suffering and hopes, dozens of hospitalizations and grueling treatments, Naamah Biton passed away at the tender age of five. But, from the pool of samples collected in the campaign, six transplants took place, saving the lives of six Jews.

 

pr-amit-kodosh-bat-mitzvahSix year old Amit Kadosh needed a transplant to save her young life. The Jewish people rallied en masse. 63,045 samples were registered in one day, a world record that hasn’t been broken to this day. From among these samples, to date, 96 lifesaving transplants were carried out. Amit, who recently became Bas Mitzvah, is with us here tonight.

 

Allow me to introduce you to some other heroes.

 

Good evening. My name is Nitai Weiner. In 2013, when I was 15 and a half, I got leukemia. I went through a series of treatments, which helped for a while, but then the disease returned. In order to save my life, they had to do a bone marrow transplant. Last March, the transplant took place.. Today, I am healthy, thank G-d, and in another two months, I will turn 19.I hope to live a long, full life.

 

 

Good evening. My name is Yechiel Rebibo. We want to thank David Farajon for his gracious donation to Ezer Mizion which enabled hundreds of potential donors to be genetically tested. Genetic testing is costly and without his gift, these donors would not have been on the Ezer Mizion database. Thanks to this gift, my life and the lives of many others were saved. May you be divinely blessed, David. Of course, I want to thank the tzaddik, Ohr Biton, whose DNA testing was funded by the Farajun Family and found to be my DNA match. He donated his bone marrow and saved my life.

 

My name is David Farajun. I am deeply moved. My family has had the privilege to have 66 lifesaving transplants take place from our family donor pool to date. The next generation will carry on after us. This is my heritage to you, my children.

 

moti-zisser-gifGood evening. My parents are Motty z”l and tibadel l’chaim, Dr. Bracha Zisser, founders of the Registry.

 

It is a great privilege for me to stand here tonight for my parents. I grew up in the shadow of the Registry. Still, until I saw the meetings of the donors and their recipients I didn’t understand quite how marvelous this chessed is. Two strangers fall on each other’s shoulders with tears of joy and embrace as dear friends.

 

My father who is no longer with us here today built malls, hotels and marinas… but his name is associated, more than anything, with the concept of chessed.

 

My father knew that we are not really disconnected individuals, but rather a single human tapestry. Perhaps because of this understanding, the mitzvah of establishing the Bone Marrow Registry came into my parents’ hands.

 

You never know whom your donation will affect. It might go to strangers whom you will never meet. But the donation might one day help you yourself or your best friend…

When my parents established the Registry, they never could have dreamed that years later, that same Registry they founded would grant my father three years of life. It may not sound like enough, but during these years, he merited dancing at a son’s wedding and got to know three grandchildren.

 

pr pix bmr cells168_ne_photo_b90aaThe bone marrow that he received, the “bag of chessed,” as he called it, waited there just for him, only thanks to the understanding that he attained years earlier – that as a society, we are actually one entity.

 

Thank you to everyone who took and takes part in this important enterprise. Thank you to everyone who came here this evening. We wish a complete recovery to all the patients and many more years of productive activity in good health.

 

For further info: www.ezermizion.org 5225 New Utrecht Ave Bk NY 11219 718 853 8400

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ezer Mizion One of Three Nominees

November 23, 2016

Four years ago, Ezer Mizion’s International Bone Marrow Registry had reached the pinnacle by meeting the very stringent criteria of WMDA (World Marrow Donor Association). Of the one hundred members of the international entity, BMDW, only 20 had been accredited by WMDA. It was Ezer Mizion’s high level of standards had catapulted the organization to membership in the prestigious World Marrow Donor Association.

Now, only four years later, Ezer Mizion is one of the three nominees for WMDA’s World Marrow Donor Day Award. The winner is to be announced in the spring.

The WMDA event is geared to raise awareness among the world population of the need to take responsibility for a bone marrow registry in order to save lives. Ezer Mizion, together with its compassionate, giving Jewish population, exemplifies the concept of this responsibility.

Drives are held frequently in Israel to increase specific ethnic groups in its database so that when a member of that group will be in need of a transplant to save his life, the DNA match will be readily available for him, avoiding needless loss of life.

Another facet of Ezer Mizion’s pursuit of its goals is the agreement with the IDF in 2005. The IDF created an additional station to its recruiting centers enabling soldiers to join the registry as part of their induction. These young, healthy potential donors of varied ethnicity have greatly added to the Registry. Fifty thousand new recruits joined in this past year alone. Search requests received from 36 countries worldwide now have a much higher rate of positive response.

The IDF’s contribution to the Registry was celebrated in October in the home of President Rivlin who eloquently spoke of the mutual responsibility to the global Jewish community felt by the Jewish population which has allowed the Registry to rise to its present level.

The incredible growth of the Registry has only been able to take place because of the generosity of Jews throughout the world who have sponsored the astronomical cost of DNA testing. Their gifts have funded the costly genetic testing of each new, potential donor, thus enabling the Registry to grow to a total of over 800,000 on its database.

Through the media, the greater Jewish public has become aware of grateful cancer patients worldwide whose lives have been saved by Ezer Mizion. A young father of two tiny girls who had been terrified of leaving his daughters to grow up as orphans, a teen who is now studying to be a doctor so that he can help others, a social worker who suddenly found herself on the other side of the desk, a chubby five-year-old who is adorable even when he is throwing a tantrum… these are some of the many who will now have a future because of generous donors who have rallied to the cause, realizing that Ezer Mizion’s Registry acts as an insurance policy for Jews everywhere.

The recent nomination for WMDA’s upcoming World Marrow Donor Day Award is gratifying and shows the acknowledgement of Ezer Mizion’s exacting standards and inordinate accomplishments by this worldwide respected entity.

For further info: 718 853 8400     5225 New Utrecht Ave Bk NY 11219          http://www.ezermizion.org

A Perfect Stranger

September 14, 2016

jacob-adashek-royi-horowitz-facing-frontAnother Ezer Mizion International Jewish Bone Marrow Registry success story! Jacob is now on his way to becoming a doctor and helping others. Just a few short years ago, his future was not certain at all. Read on as he tells his story.

A perfect stranger saved my life. He didn’t jump in front of a moving vehicle or fend off an attacker. He wasn’t perfect for the reasons one might think, but for my predicament, he was indeed perfect—a 10 out of 10 match, to be exact. I required such a match to survive.

As a senior in high school, my classmates had voted me “most likely to cure cancer.” Ironically, a year later, I found myself lying in a hospital bed, after being diagnosed with leukemia. The conundrum was that I felt fine and was anxious to begin my summer of organic chemistry as part of a combined undergraduate and medical school program. At 19 years old, I was completely unprepared to be diagnosed with cancer, admitted to the hospital, and informed I would need an urgent bone marrow transplant and chemotherapy, all in the same day. I had planned out my life for as long as I could remember, and suddenly nothing was under my control.

Being the youngest of 5 children, I felt confident that I would have a bone marrow donor. I would learn that a full sibling has a 25% chance1 of being a human leukocyte antigen (HLA)match and, as each of my siblings was eliminated as a possible donor, fear set in. I couldn’t fathom that a complete stranger would be willing to save me, yet that is what my life depended on. The first of 6 matches was found, and relief engulfed me. My “perfect stranger” was chosen because he was a 10-point HLA match, male, around my age, and had tested negative for cytomegalovirus.

From the moment I learned that a 28-year-old stranger from Israel would donate his bone marrow to me, I could not stop thinking about him. What did he look like? I imagined him in each face I saw. I had always expected to spend a large portion of my life in hospitals, but never as a patient, always as the physician. I spent over 100 days as an inpatient and, throughout my long recovery, I often wondered about my donor. Why was he on the bone marrow registry? Why was he willing to undergo bone marrow donation surgery to save me? He would later explain that a young girl in Israel who needed a bone marrow transplant had inspired him to join the registry and, later, I had more insight into his sacrifice, when he referenced the quote from the Talmud, “to save a life is to save the world.”

 

Each country has its own guidelines for the time frame when willing donors and recipients can learn one another’s identities. In the United States, the rule is 1 year, whereas, in Israel, it is 2 years. I wrote to my donor never knowing more than his age, gender, and country, and he wrote to me under the same conditions of anonymity. I wondered how we would meet given the distance between us, until one day I received an unexpected telephone call, offering me the opportunity to be flown across the country to meet him at a fundraiser. Ten days later, I was on a plane with my parents, feeling excited, thrilled, and nervous.

It was a whirlwind few days. I was asked to prepare a speech, but everything else was kept a secret. The time came for me to put on my suit, and I was whisked off to the event to learn the name of my hero. Never has the appetizer hour taken so long. I searched all over hoping to catch a glimpse of my donor. Unbeknownst to me, he was sequestered in a room upstairs. Eventually, it was time for dinner, and I would finally meet the man whose blood now runs through my veins (my blood type had been O+ but changed to his blood type, A+).

My name was called. I rose and strode to the podium. I expressed my gratitude and appreciation for my donor, and described waiting anxiously for 2 years to thank the stranger who saved my life. As I expected, my mom was in tears, but to my surprise there was not a dry eye in the room. The master of ceremonies approached and reached for the microphone. He spoke my donor’s name and, hearing it for the very first time, I felt exhilarated. Then Royi Horowitz walked through the doors. Gratitude flooded through me, and I gave him a long bear hug. I looked in the eyes of the man who so selflessly and willingly saved my life; a perfect stranger.

Reluctantly, I released him. This man whom I had loved since the day I learned he would give me a future was now right before me. I could finally lay eyes on him and hear his voice. The connection I feel with my donor, Royi, is sacred. For 2 years, I referred to him as my donor, my blood brother, and now I can finally call him by name. Four years later, the connection is just as strong. We are in touch regularly, and he and his wife have even traveled to my parents’ home in California, and met my family. Once a perfect stranger, now he is a dear friend.

For further info: 718 853 8400            5225 New Utrecht Ave Bk NY 11219 http://www.ezermizion.org

 

Moti Zisser ob’m, the Business Tycoon who was So Much More…

July 20, 2016

The walls of the homes of holocaust survivors often whisper: “Produce! Produce! Replace what was destroyed.” Moti Zisser a’h grew up in such a home and heeded the unsaid call. From a simple upbringing, he became a tycoon, branching out all over Israel anMoti Zisser.gifd around the world. Giant ventures, huge shopping centers were the bricks of his world. Torah and chessed were its products. Together with his wife, Bracha hbl’c, he established Ezer Mizion’s International Bone Marrow Donor Registry in Israel, which has already saved the lives of over 2,000 people. He was one of the founders of Mer’orot Hadaf Hayomi and supported this tremendous enterprise all his life. Private individuals also knew how to reach his listening ear and left warmed by the caring of a warm-hearted Jew, generous check in hand. Impoverished newlyweds often would find their needs well taken care of by a clandestine visit from a ‘mysterious angel’.   Some may say that his life ended in tragedy with his succumbing to cancer at age 60. But the word ‘tragedy’ can never describe a life that accomplished so much.

Early on in his career, Moti’s desire to help the chareidi public motivated him, together with his cousin Pinchas Ehrenreich and the British Jewish businessman Zalman Margulis, to found the “Kochav Hashomron” company, which developed the chareidi settlement of Emanuel in Shomron.

Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, Rabbi of Tel Aviv-Yaffo began his eulogy describing Moti as a big-hearted, visionary businessman, who has many great accomplishments chalked up to his merit. About twenty years ago, Zisser was diagnosed with cancer. From that point on, he and his wife, Dr. Bracha Zisser, added more to their vast list of chessed and began dedicating themselves help others who were experiencing the frightening horror which they themselves knew too well. They founded Oranit under the auspices of Ezer Mizion. Oranit is a home for families with a member under treatment which enables the patient and his parents/children/siblings to remain together and to avoid tiring trips to treatment centers. In addition, it offers varied forms of therapy to better enable them to cope with the nightmare that has entered their lives.

They also founded Ezer Mizion’s International Bone Marrow Donor Registry, at the cost of tens of millions of dollars. The Registry was established in response to the urgent need for a world Jewish registry.

In the meantime, Zisser recovered, but tragically, the cancer was to return after a long hiatus and attack Zisser with a vengeance. He benefited from a bone marrow donation from the very Registry that he had helped to establish. “Just as when a person opens a bank,” Moti had quipped, “Hashem sends him in the end to be a client of that bank, so I became the client of my own bank, and the banker herself took care of me,” he concluded, motioning towards his wife Bracha, who directs the Registry to this day.

After his death, Chananya Chollak, International Chairman of Ezer Mizion, which benefited greatly from Zisser’s generous support, described him as “a true and precious partner in our journey, a man with a broad and loving heart, a man who epitomizes unremitting chessed and giving for the Klal and for each individual. Ezer Mizion has lost a beloved and very special friend, and we embrace his family at this difficult time. He has many merits. Moti knew that when a person stands before the Heavenly Court, neither silver nor gold accompany him – just mitzvot and good deeds.”

One of his major life works was the Me’orot Hadaf Hayomi enterprise, which he founded together with Hagaon Rav Chaim David Kovalsky shilta, an organization through which people, even those who are not connected to the chareidi world and have never opened a gemorah, could learn the daily daf every day.

Moti wanted everyone to learn. Even on his sickbed, he was always concerned about it. He merited that thousands of Jews are learning Torah thanks to him. He was also instrumental in publishing the sfarim, V’tein Chelkeinu, which explain the Gemara in a reader-friendly form, making it accessible even to those who are not used to studying Gemara and reading Aramaic.

He was the founding seed of the first shiur and from there, everything developed and flourished. Thanks to him, we later established the beit midrash for maggidei shiurim, which trains learned avreichim to deliver shiurim on Daf Yomi throughout the country,” says Hagaon Rav Chaim David.

“From there it mushroomed into thousands of siyumei masechet, until it became a Torah enterprise of stunning proportions.” “Moti loved to give,” Hagaon Rav Chaim David continues, “whenever possible, and preferably without fanfare.”

His friend of many years, Attorney Chanoch Vinderbaum, speaks about the unique personality that characterized this many-sided businessman. “Beyond his being a successful tycoon, Moti was a model of utilizing one’s time. He made the most of every minute of his life. Some people live for 90 years and do not succeed in doing a fraction of what Moti did in only 60 years. That was Moti, always doing, always giving. “Moti was a meitiv, a doer of good. Good to his family, good to his friends, and good to everyone around him. May his memory be blessed.

For further info: www.ezermizion.org            718 853 8400  5225 New Utrecht Ave Bk NY 11219