Posts Tagged ‘DNA’

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.

A Bone Marrow Registry Nightmare: He Said No!

March 29, 2017

Two Men DebatingAvigayil has successfully trained many in public speaking as head of TED, a worldwide organization whose website attracts viewers that number into the millions. She is passionate about her profession and believes anyone can speak publicly if he is excited about his topic. One would assume that if Avigayil were to take the podium herself, Public Speaking would be her focus. But she says otherwise. “There is something I am even more enthusiastic about. In fact, if it were not for that subject, I would not be here today. What is it? It’s leukemia.

Uninvited, leukemia visited me twice. The second time, the doctors didn’t hold out much hope. In fact, the only possibility of survival depended on a bone marrow transplant. And the chances of finding a genetic match, so vital for success, weren’t that great. I became quite depressed. Who wouldn’t be under such conditions? But then the sun shone again. A match was found. I began to make plans again. Things were looking up.

It never occurred to me that there would be a hitch at this stage. But there was. This DNA match, the only one in the world that we knew about at the time, the only person who could save my life…changed his mind. Thud! My spirits plummeted from Euphoria to Gloom.

My one and only chance to live had said no. I couldn’t fathom it. But Ezer Mizion didn’t waste any time being upset. They just said, “Ok. Back to the computers. We’ll find you another one.” I didn’t have much hope. Two miracles? Isn’t that too much to hope for? At Ezer Mizion, miracles seem to happen often. They did find a second one.   But he was on vacation in Tiberias with his wife. Of course, everyone expected him to say no. After all, a lot of effort and money goes into planning a vacation.

“Where should I report? What time?” was the response.

I’m healthy now. I have a long life to look forward to. A year after the transplant, I met my savior. We spoke for hours but the most important thing I was not able to say. How does one say thank you for saving a life?

If I were to take the podium, this is what I would speak about: Ezer Mizion, the largest Jewish registry in the world with over 800,000 registrants, an organization that just doesn’t give up!


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


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

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



His Father’s Hug

February 24, 2016

pr bmr Yehudah Itai IMG_9758It was a long, exhausting day. A little prick in the finger hardly registered with Yehudah as he went through all the red tape of his army induction. The prick had long healed when a call came in during his commander course. “I was needed to save a life. It wasn’t the kind of call you receive every day. I consulted with my Rav who advised me to do whatever is necessary. The life of another Jew was at stake. I was the only one in the entire world who was a genetic match to this person. My bone marrow would save him. It was all up to me.

But it still wasn’t real.

A year later, I received another call saying that the recipient wanted to meet me. That’s when it became real. There was a person on the other end. Suddenly, these moments at the clinic last year took on a face and a name and a family and dreams.

The recipient was Itai Chanan from Herzliya who discovered that he had blood cancer. “One day I came home with a sort of wound near my forehead, and on Shabbat morning, I woke up with a red, swollen face. Abba rushed me to the hospital. It was there that I heard that word: leukemia. It seemed as if it’s a bad video that will be over soon. At first it was like a party. Everyone came to visit me– until suddenly, I grasped what was going on and then came the big shock.”

After I completed the round of treatments, they told me I would need a bone marrow transplant and that one of the possible side-effects was… death. Now the ball was in my court – to decide whether or not to do it. But when they tell you that this is the only way to save your life, there isn’t much of a decision to make.

My sisters were not found to be compatible donors. Now what? After all, if my own siblings weren’t a match, how could a stranger’s DNA match?

I hadn’t counted on a miracle. One of the many Ezer Mizion miracles.

When the recovery period was over, I returned to life, step by step. There is a period of time roughly defined as ‘a hundred days of recovery.’

“A year after the transplant, Ezer Mizion asked me if I would like to meet the donor. We are both at a similar point in life, and the encounter was …was…I really have no words to describe it.”

Yehudah agrees. “It was a very moving meeting. His father gave me a hug that is has become part of my very being to this day. No matter how I would describe the power of that embrace, it would only minimize what I felt at that moment.”

“I am married, “ continues Itai.”and the father of a one-year-old. Sometimes I look around and think— all that would never have been if it weren’t for Yehudah.”

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


The Ultimate Birthday Gift

February 18, 2015

It was her 20th birthday. She had planned to celebrate by going out of town. But Kaya changed her plans and saved a life instead. Upon her induction into the IDF at 18, she had registered with Ezer Mizion’s Bone Marrow Registry, never dreaming that she, from among 700,000 fellow registrants, would ever be called.
But among the many calls of birthday wishes, she received one call that enabled her to ‘give birth’ to someone her own age, a cancer patient whose sole chance of survival was a bone marrow transplant.
“Of course, I changed my birthday plans and, no, it was not fun to receive injections in my lower back for four days and then spend six hours lying on my back while my stem cells were separated and prepared. But I was thrilled at receiving a birthday present that allowed me to be the giver of the ultimate gift: life itself. Giving bone marrow on my birthday is like giving new life. There is something very symbolic and inspiring about it. Now I can just hope that thanks to the donation, this young woman whom I don’t know will recover quickly and agree to meet me. As far as I’m concerned, a very special bond was formed between us, even though we have never yet met.”
In 1996, Moshe Schayek, a young man desperate for a bone marrow transplant, turned to Ezer Mizion for assistance in finding a matching donor. Ezer Mizion’s Cancer Support Division helped his family coordinate a bone marrow drive, but no match was found among the 5,000 people who participated in the drive. Sadly, the young man died, but he left a legacy that has enabled hundreds of other sick Jews to live by establishment of Ezer Mizion’s International Bone Marrow Donor Registry.
As of December 1, 2014, the Registry has grown to include 740,059 potential donors! An incredible 311,025 of these potential donors are IDF recruits who joined the registry following a landmark agreement between Ezer Mizion and the Israel Defense Forces whereby new recruits routinely undergo testing as part of their induction process.
Since the establishment of Ezer Mizion’s Bone Marrow Donor Registry in 1998, it has handled thousands of search requests from dozens of transplant centers in 48 countries around the world. Ezer Mizion’s Registry has made 7,490 complete donor-patient matches that have facilitated 1,703 stem cell transplants saving the lives of Jewish patients throughout the world and sparing thousands of people untold anguish.
Today, Ezer Mizion’s Bone Marrow Donor Registry is the largest Jewish registry in the world. Because donors and recipients need to be genetically compatible, Jewish patients generally require Jewish stem cell donors. The Registry is a vital resource for thousands of Jewish patients and serves as a safety net for Jews everywhere.

On the Roller Coaster for Life

September 23, 2014

Koreh B’Kefar Veradim
July 30, 2014
“On the Roller Coaster for Life”
Moraz Feingold, 19, from Kefar Veradim, was found to be a match for a bone marrow donation to an anonymous cancer patient. “I did not hesitate for a moment. If someone gives you a chance to take part in saving a human life – you don’t refuse.”pr pix bmr cells168_ne_photo_b90aa
It all started a year ago, on the day of Feingold’s induction to the IDF, when she voluntarily joined Ezer Mizion’s Bone Marrow Registry, without having an inkling of what was to come. Four months later, she got a phone call informing her that she was found to be at least an 80% match for a bone marrow donation to a cancer patient. The tension was palpable. All she could think about during that period was what she referred to as her “mark”. “Would I get a 100?” There were more tests. Finally, the tension was over. Indeed she did receive a 100. She was a perfect genetic match and the donation process was ready to begin.
However, nothing is simple regarding a cancer patient. His condition deteriorated. The bone marrow transplant was deferred indefinitely.
The roller coaster ride continued. This time up. A few months ago, when the patient’s condition improved, Feingold was contacted once again, and again she responded very happily.
“All I know about him is that he is a male weighing 85 kilo. Because of the difference in our weights, they gave me double the number of injections over the course of five days, so as to increase stem cell production in my body.”
The exciting day finally arrived! Moraz reported to the Schneider Hospital, accompanied by her parents. There, they attached her for five hours to a machine that filtered out the stem cells from her blood stream. After that, her stem cell donation was transferred to the unknown recipient.
“It’s wild to think that so many cells from my body are circulating in the body of someone else whom I don’t even know. All the same, I highly recommend that every person join a bone marrow registry. Joining is really simple, and if you are found to be a match, the donation process is not painful and is very fulfilling. I hope that awareness of this simple procedure will grow, and that more and more young people will enter the registry. It is an unbelievable privilege to have a part in saving a life,” Feingold concluded.
Sivan Yechieli, head of the Kefar Veradim city council: “Moraz is a courageous and generous young woman and we are proud of her decision to join the registry. It is our hope that her deed will inspire other young people in our town and throughout the country to join Ezer Mizion’s registry and save cancer patients with a relatively simple process.”
“There are very few occasions in life when we can give without expecting anything in return, and these rare moments are the essence of our lives as a society that cares about its members. May there be many more people like Moraz.”

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Wings of Sensitivity

March 19, 2014

Wings of Sensitivity

by Mati Cyber and Yaron Kellner
It was a very moving encounter: There, on the line-up square of the Chatzerim Military Base stood a young officer who just got his Air Force wings. Up in the audience sat the man whose life was saved, thanks to a bone marrow donation he received from the young pilot.
A few years ago, when Lieutenant N. enlisted in the army, he joined Ezer Mizion’s International Bone Marrow Donor Registry as part of his induction into the IDF. Only one of hundreds who signed up that week, he assumed nothing would ever come of it and promptly forgot about it. But he was wrong. About a year and a half ago, he was found to be a compatible donor for Shmuel Harari, a 63-year-old resident of Arad, whose last chance to survive was a bone marrow transplant. The transplant was successful and now Harari longed to meet his donor.
The young Lieutenant was also anxious to meet the person whose life he had saved and so plans were made to meet at the “Wings Parade” ceremony held at the conclusion of the pilot course. Emotions already high due to the event, they reached even further heights as the two embraced sharing their joy with Lieutenant N’s family and fellow pilots. Harari’s daughter, son-in-law and two grandchildren had accompanied the jubilant grandfather. “Because of you, I’ll be able to watch these children grow up,” he told Lieutenant N.
“I have no words to describe this encounter with the person who saved my life. The tears that choked me up at the time of the meeting made it hard for me to say everything that was in my heart,” Harari said.
Dr. Bracha Zisser, Director of Ezer Mizion’s International Bone Marrow Donor Registry, said: “Every encounter of donor and recipient is a thrilling event. But today, on the line-up square, we watched a graduate student receive his wings enabling him to fly as a member of the IDF and help save lives. In our hearts, we presented him with a virtual second set of wings because of the heights he has already flown in selflessly donating his marrow to save the life of Shmuel Harari. My friends at Ezer Mizion and I were overcome by a storm of emotion beyond description. Praised is the nation that counts people like N. as its members.”
Said Commander-in-Chief Benny Gantz. “In the future, we will need to respond to those who seek our harm, from near and far. You will be in the pilot’s cabin and the entire nation will rely on you. The sensitivity you have displayed in donating your marrow to save a life is the same sensitivity you will need as a pilot. Lieutenant N., we salute you. You have shown us that the nation of Israel can depend on you. ”

He’ll Watch Them Grow Up

January 15, 2014

He'll Watch Them Grow Up

“Last January was a very busy month for my husband, Dudi. He is manager of a software company, a job that keeps him busy every moment. He didn’t feel well, as if he had a lingering flu, but he simply didn’t have time to be sick. When the workload abated a bit, he took two days vacation, but he still didn’t feel any better. At that time, swine flu was going around the country, so I asked him to go for a check-up. On Friday, he finally went to the doctor. The doctor said he did not see anything, but since the symptoms were going on for such a long time, and since no lab tests are processed at the clinic on Fridays, he referred us to the Emergency Room for a blood test. We were absolutely relaxed about it. I dropped Dudi off at Tel Hashomer Hospital and continued home to Tel Aviv to pick up the girls. I had just had time to pick up Lior, our oldest daughter, when Dudi called and said, “Nu, when are you coming?” It was his voice. Not the casual Dudi that I know. I immediately understood that something was very wrong and I flew to the hospital. The results had come in fast. And they were not good. Leukemia. I stood there stupefied. Leukemia doesn’t happen. Not to us. Maybe others but not us. Later I would discover that is how everyone-all the others- also felt when they heard the news about their own diagnosis. I couldn’t speak. But then I found my voice. “We’re strong and we’ll get through this,” I assured him although my knees were shaking with terror.
Dudi spent that Shabbat in the hemato-oncology ward. In the morning, I brought the girls to the hospital and told them the truth about what their father had. Seven-year-old Lior asked, “Is Abba going to die?” I grabbed hold of a chair to steady myself. I didn’t feel older than seven myself. Yet I had to be the strong one.
For several months, Dudi underwent chemotherapy treatments but it wasn’t enough. A bone marrow transplant was needed to save his life and a genetic match was essential. Immediate family was checked.
No match.
It was a tough moment, frightening and shattering. But then we heard about Ezer Mizion’s Bone Marrow Donor Registry. I remembered all the advertisements I had seen in the past that “We’re looking for a donor for so-and-so’s father…” I hoped we would not be in that place. Will there be a match already on the database? The thought of waiting was terrifying and what if…what if it was not found in time? At the end of a nerve-racking month, we were told that a matching donor was located in the Registry. We were thrilled.
The transplant was successful, and today Dudi is recovering from it. We were so moved that a total stranger agreed to save Dudi’s life. We would very much like to thank him personally when it becomes possible. Words cannot express our thanks to Ezer Mizion for the holy work they do. When an Ezer Mizion volunteer sits with your sick relative or comes by with newspapers and magazines, a hot meal, or just a kind word, it is a huge help. But beyond all this, we owe them Dudi’s life. Without them, our girls may learn to double-jump rope, star in a school play, get an A in a book report, enter high school, start their first job, and walk down the aisle towards marriage…and their father…their father who loves them more than life itself…their father may not have been there to share it all with them. Ezer Mizion, we can never repay you!
Osnat Nir

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