Posts Tagged ‘leukemia’

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

July 26, 2017

pr canc sup lego kids - sLove at first sight, that’s what Maor Cohen felt when he got his first Lego set at age five. “My Mom came home from a visit in Tel Aviv, the ‘big city,’ with a humongous Lego set that must have cost half her monthly salary. You have to understand that back then, in the beginning of the 1980’s, this was no trivial matter. I was so excited that I went to sleep at night hugging the box and the next day I couldn’t wait to come back from preschool and play with it.”

“From that moment, which remains vivid in my heart more than thirty years later, I never stopped developing my hobby. Every birthday present was Lego, and every bit of money I saved up as a child remained in my piggy bank until enough accumulated to buy a new set. I lived at the time in Yavneh and I would ride my bicycle all the way to Rechovot in order to buy Lego and save the cost of a bus ticket.”

Throughout his youth, Cohen never abandoned his hobby. But, of course, as he matured, his focus turned to adult occupations. He served in the army, completed an officers’ course, and today, after finishing his academic studies through the army, is serving as a Major in the Manpower Department.

One day, he recalls, after realizing that he had accumulated in his home an unimaginable amount of Lego, worth hundreds of thousands of shekels, he decided that it was time to pass the pieces on to somebody else who would enjoy them. “I wanted to do something good with the Lego. I turned to my friend, Rabbi Eitan Eckstein, who suggested that I donate the collection to Oranit, Ezer Mizion’s Donald Berman Rehab Center for Support of Cancer Patients and their Families.pr canc sup lego

When I arrived at Oranit, my plans changed. Drastically. “I came there intending to simply donate the Lego and go my merry way. Oranit staff had a different idea. “Suppose you keep the Lego and use it for a club, showing the kids how to use it. You’ve got the skills. You’ve got the know-how. You could accomplish so much. You could put life into those kids (and maybe even adults). Dealing with cancer is frightening. It’s depressing. Having a project like Lego to look forward to would work wonders.”

“They were so convincing that I tried giving the workshop that very day. I recall hesitantly entering the playroom with a few pieces of Lego and three children and we started building. Well, it worked. The kids loved it. Every week, the number of kids increased, and today there are almost thirty children participating.

From that moment five years ago, Maor Cohen has been running the Lego Club in Oranit on a volunteer basis. With time, the project expanded. Others volunteered to assist him. Nir Solomon, who served as Cohen’s brigade commander in the past and is now retired uses his free time help Maor run the club. Four other volunteers also come regularly. Even Maor’s immense collection has its limits but many have been fascinated by the project and offered to help finance new Lego sets. Maor’s brother is one of these. “He was very excited by the idea and asked to donate money so that I could buy the kids Lego as a gift. That would enable them to have Lego not only during the club time but also at home and with them during their treatments.”

Neither sun, nor rain, nor the security situation can deter the energetic Lego man. “The club is now in its fifth year, and it takes place once a week, no matter what. At most, I push it off a day, because I know that the child and his family are waiting for me. In addition to the club, I also make the rounds in the Oncology wards of the hospitals 3-4 times a week and build with the hospitalized children.”pr canc sup lego s-f

Why Lego? “First of all, Lego is great fun. I also think that it is especially important for these kids, because with Lego, there is a feeling of continuity. All that planning gives them a sense of a future.

Dr. Bracha Zisser, Director of Oranit, explains that Oranit was founded in order to relieve patients and their families during the difficult period of treatments. “We operate as a guest house that enables families to sleep over in the Center of the country near treatment centers to avoid the long, grueling hours of traveling. We also organize trips and social activities. In addition, we provide many forms of therapy for both patient and his family. We are constantly expanding our activities in order to enable every person, the patient or his family member, to connect with activities that speak to him.

Maor has got to know Oranit and its staff over the years. “Oranit is an amazing place. They provide support in the most difficult moments, both to children who are sick and to children with a sick parent, and actually to the entire family, in the knowledge that the family is the circle surrounding the child.”

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

When Cancer Necessitates Saying Goodbye

June 14, 2017

pr canc sup Maor Cohen says goodbye to Ophir
When Cancer Necessitates Saying Goodbye

Maor Cohen is a highly sensitive man who is known at Ezer Mizion as Mr. Lego. He raises the spirits of both children and adults battling life-threatening diseases with his Lego Workshop in addition to his hospital visits to those who cannot attend the workshop. Many have asked how he manages to create deep relationships that are too often broken when his ‘lego-friends’ leave this world. Share his thoughts below.

On Sunday, you were beginning treatment.

We arranged that I would come.

An event that I’m responsible for is stretching out longer than expected, and I’m thinking of you.

It’s already 10:30 PM.

I send a text message to your mother: “Does it still make sense for me to come?”

She replies that she thinks it would be better tomorrow.

A minute goes by, and she calls. “Maor, come now. Ophir wants you.”

11:30 PM. I’m sitting next to you. You ask me to tell you what’s in the Lego kit I brought you.

You plan how you’ll build it, and I enjoy planning it with you. Making plans implies a future.

Today, your soul departed and went to Heaven.

I am left here, to miss

your engaging smile,

your wise look,

your soft voice,

your desire to create,

your enthusiasm as we build together,

the special way you entered my heart,

the phone calls before each treatment,

your very special Ima and Abba,

who became like family to me.

Ophir, you went through days that were not at all simple.

And all you wanted was to live.

The moments I spent with you are engraved in my heart

and will stay with me forever.

No words can bring solace,

but there is great comfort in having known you.

You will always remain in my heart.

Watch over me from up there, please.

Rest, little sister, rest.

Compassion Makes the Wheels Go ‘Round

May 10, 2017

When staff really cares. When it’s not just a job…punch in/punch out. When the CEO gives out his cell number to recently orphaned children telling them to call anytime (and they do). When volunteers are inspired to drop what thepr general hel;ioong hand in darky are doing, time and time again, to help out a someone in need… this is compassion at its best.

Sometimes it requires the utmost sensitivity. Like the kallah (bride) whose chassan (groom) was discovered shortly before the wedding to have leukemia. The wedding was rescheduled and the newlywed couple tried to build a home, albeit in a different way than planned, together. Ezer Mizion supported them in every way. The nightmare is over now. Please look over our shoulder, dear reader and supporter, as we read together the letter sent to the Ezer Mizion office. It is your gifts that enable Ezer Mizion to continue being the strong, dependable pillar for so many to lean on.

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An grateful thank you letter from our files

To the Fantastic, Special Organization: Ezer Mizion!

First of all, we want to thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your boundless giving and support, which helped us and gave us the tools we needed to get through a most difficult period, physically strong and emotionally healthy.

About two years ago, we got engaged, b’sha’ah tovah u’mutzlachat. The engagement period passed by pleasantly, filled with many hopes and dreams about the home that we would build together and the happy life we would share.

We do not know Hashem’s (G-d’s) calculations, but we do know that everything He does is for the best. And so, a month before our wedding, my husband was diagnosed with leukemia.

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Ezer Mizion, Israel

Suddenly, everything looked different… The wedding was pushed up to take place a few days later, and immediately afterwards, we began treatment. The physical and emotional pain and the challenges involved in these treatments are too complex to describe…

Amid all the agony and frustration, the Ezer Mizion team – a marvelous organization unmatched in its unfaltering assistance and support – appeared on the scene, truly loyal messengers. They helped us in countless ways, both practical and emotional. They were always there, even before we realized we needed something.

Ezer Mizion wisely and gently set us up with an expert therapist, which, in our sensitive situation, was truly a lifesaver!! She listened, supported, encouraged, and counseled us. She baruch Hashem (thank G-d) helped us in this very delicate situation, not to break down, but to remain happy, strong, optimistic, and full of emunah (faith), using our challenge to grow and form an even closer bond.

Again, we feel eternally grateful to those who were behind all this outpouring of chessed- those who helped, those whose financial support enabled this help…

We give you our heartfelt blessings that you should always be on the giving end, in good health, joy and happiness, and may Divine assistance accompany you in all your endeavors.

With our greatest appreciation,

Moshe and Chedvah

 

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Cancer Support via What’s App

 Compassion…Sometimes it requires the flexibility of changing plans at the drop of a hat. A family with three small children recently emigrated to Israel from France. Resettling was hard enough but became overwhelming when the wife was suddenly diagnosed with cancer. Rides to the clinic, professional emotional support, regular meals, child care assistance, medical advocacy would all be theirs in a short time.  But right now, this morning when Ezer Mizion became aware of their plight, they needed lunch. Food strengthens the body. Food invigorates the soul. Food enables the family to handle the crisis suddenly thrust upon them. And no lunch was yet on schedule.  A call went out to volunteers: I know it’s very short notice but can anyone provide a hot lunch for five people today and for the next two days? In 1.5 minutes, that’s ninety seconds (!), one of our angels responded. A delicious, attractively served lunch was prepared by one volunteer, delivered by another to the family on time as if it were weeks in the preparation.

Ezer Mizion: where caring and compassion provides the electricity that makes the wheels go ‘round.

Would you like to join the ‘wheel of compassion’?

 

Many of You Have Asked…

May 4, 2017

Does Ezer Mizion provide transplants to Israel residents only?

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

The See-Saw Remains on Up

April 26, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

The Beeps Keep Coming

March 22, 2017

helping-handsWe all remember what Purim was like. That special electricity in the air as we rush from house to house sharing shalach monos and Purim joy. A gorilla dancing with a rabbit to a lively Shoshanos Yaakov right there on Avenue J. Nearby a miniature Mordechai is gleefully riding a pony while “Haman” leads it, shouting “Thus shall be done…”

But for some, especially those who are members of Ezer Mizion’s Linked to Life Group, Purim had an added dimension this year with the special Purim joy multiplied a hundredfold. It was almost a beep a minute at Linked to Life and each request was answered, some within seconds. Come take a peek at what was behind each beep.

  • A little boy wants to be a fireman but his mother has cancer and has no strength to buy him a costume. Who can help?
  • We have 150 special kids who learned about shalach manos but won’t be receiving any? Can someone donate them?
  • A small boy with leukemia is dreaming of a special costume. No one can find it anywhere. Any volunteer to custom sew it for him?
  • There’s a patient at the oncology ward who is so depressed that she is missing Purim. We need lots of volunteers to bring shalach manos and smiles.
  • We’re on duty here at the firehouse all day. Can someone come to read the megillah for us?
  • There’s a large group of patients at Shaar Menashe Hospital with not a sign of Purim. Can anyone arrange a lebedike party? Who can provide food? Music? Costumed dancers?
  • A cancer patient has no family. I have a list of all her favorites but I’m out of town. Can someone put together a ‘personalized’ shalach monos?

Purim is over. The beeps are less frequent but still coming in.

  • To New York branch of Linked to Life:Baruch is a 5-year – old cancer patient who is arriving from Israel and landing in Newark at 6:00 PM. He is able to eat only cooked white rice and, what with all the paraphernalia needed for this medical trip, his parents forgot his container of white rice. Can someone meet them at Newark airport with a meal for this child who will have had nothing to eat for so many hours?
  • Urgent! Urgent! Urgent! Looking for a volunteer to bring a prosthetic hand from London to Israel today! The prosthesis can be brought to any location in London and picked up from any place in Israel…If you know of someone flying today from London to Israel, please call Zevulun ASAP

Ezer Mizion’s Linked to Life…where no Jew is ever alone.

Like to join Linked to Life from any country around the world? SMS: 011 972 52 580 8936

For further info: www.ezermizion.org              5225 New Utrecht Ave Bk NY 11219             718 853 8500

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