Posts Tagged ‘genetic’

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

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


It Was Cancer

June 25, 2014

La’isha: Letter from the Editor

May 19, 2014

One Who Saves a Life

Cancer, I don’t have to tell you, is a serious and cursed illness. It is life-threatening, living with it is horrible, and the treatments are an indescribable nightmare.

That’s why we all were so horrified when a close and dear family member, Eli Stein, was diagnosed with leukemia two years ago. In one day, our lives turned over. From then on, every day became a battle for life that included countless hospitalizations, radiations, chemotherapy treatments. There were tough days, and there were tougher days.

At one point, Eli had to be in total isolation for weeks because his entire immune system had collapsed. The medications he was getting were so toxic that the nursing staff was not allowed to touch him or even the sheets he was lying on, because his body emitted dangerous toxins as a result of the chemicals he was getting. An absolute horror.

Several long months of physical and emotional torment elapsed. His loving wife Shuly ran around, from home to hospital and back, doing whatever she could to relieve his agony, if only a tiny bit. Everything was focused on one moment: the point when he would be able to undergo a bone marrow transplant, his only chance at life. The transplant itself was also dangerous, but since it was the only hope, we clutched at it and prayed that a matching donor would be found and that the transplant would succeed. The days of waiting were heavy with tension.

But the moment came when a donor was located and all the preparations were made. What excitement! Finally, a glint of light at the end of the tunnel! The day of the transplant itself also arrived, and again – nerves stretched to the limit. Two more weeks of terrible, unbearable back pains, while our hearts palpitated: Succeeded? Didn’t succeed? It takes time until the tests show that new blood is beginning to form. Only half a year later came the day when the test parameters indicated clearly that the leukemia was dead and that new blood was flowing through his arteries. The transplant was crowned a success. Imagine what ecstasy we felt, how we literally jumped for joy!

All this time we said: What we will we do when we meet the donor? Who is he? How does he look? We envisioned him in our minds. How do you thank the person who saved your life?

The identity of the donor may be revealed only a year or two after the transplant, and even then, only on condition that he agrees to the exposure. Just imagine what a thrill it was for us a month ago, when they informed us that there will be an encounter between the families of donors and recipients and our Eli will be among them.

There is a marvelous enterprise, an association of righteous, dedicated volunteers, called Ezer Mizion. They are the ones responsible for the tremendous Bone Marrow Donor Registry, and they are the ones who fund the stage of the initial compatibility test with private donations. This wonderful enterprise is in partnership with the IDF. Today, every conscript, on the day of induction, joins the Registry (all they need to do is give a simple saliva sample).

On that special day, at the Tel Hashomer Base, our Eli Stein and his wife Shuly (who is my husband’s enchanting sister) met the 22-year-old donor, Guy Waldman of Tivon and his family. The minute they told Guy that he was found to be a match, he did not hesitate for a second. If you take a good look at the photograph, you can see how good-hearted he is.

How was the meeting? You might be waiting for me to fill you in. But I can’t answer that question, because I stood there and just cried and cried. We all cried. So did all the other donors and recipients. One of the recipients was a four-year-old child. How can you not cry?

Unfortunately, I can’t sign up for the Registry anymore because I am past the age of 45. But I can help support the genetic testing of others who do sign up – is there a greater mitzvah than this?


Orna Nener

Chief Editor

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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