Posts Tagged ‘genetic match’

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         http://www.ezermizion.org

 

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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: www.ezermizion.org              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: www.ezermizionusa.org       5225 New Utrecht Ave Bk NY 11219                               718 853 8400

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.

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