It’s been said many times. Help others when you can. It’s a chessed. It’s the right thing to do. And, in addition, you never know when you may be on the other side of the fence. Batya is proof of this. About fifteen years ago, her daughter’s kidney issues that she had suffered with since the age of twelve reached a new low and only a kidney transplant could save her. Batya and her son were both good matches but Batya insisted that she be the one to donate. Her son has his whole life ahead of him. Should anything go wrong, she felt she could never forgive herself. Shortly after the transplant, her daughter gave birth to the first of two adorable grandchildren for Batya to cuddle and spoil. Imagine, a few days of discomfort and Batya earned grandchildren, great-grandchildren…eternity.
At 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 (grandfather) 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, … Continue reading Two Grandpas: Their Sole Chance of Survival Was a Bone Marrow Transplant
Numbers are funny things. They look nice and neat, march in straight rows. They create groups (3 of these and 5 of those) and somehow make us feel that everything is under control. Until one personally finds herself in one of those groups – the wrong one. The one that people don’t like to mention. You know, the C word. Cancer.
That was me. The C monster opened its mouth and grabbed me right before my trip to South America. I had been planning it for months but it wasn’t going to be. I gave myself a compensation prize of some amazing tours in different countries but in between, I toured hospitals.
April 2017 – BMDR ACTIVITY SUMMARY 31 lifesaving transplants 21 from personalized donor pools 2,463 total transplants 856,257 members in registry
Below are the donor pools that saved lives this month, and their total transplants.
Alan Cohen Donor Pool – 76 lives saved David & Sara Farajun Donor Pool – 79 lives saved – 5 this month! Tommy & Yehudit Farkas Donor Pool – 1 life saved Hole In One Donor Pool – 20 lives saved – 2 this month! Leora Kuhillow Donor Pool – 9 lives saved Manny & Mojdeh Malekan Donor Pool – 1 life saved Irving & Cherna Moskowitz Donor Pool – 21 lives saved Ronald O. Perelman Donor Pool – 28 lives saved Rolf & Ruth Redlauer Donor Pool – 6 lives saved Dudu & Chagit Saada Donor Pool – 1 life saved Alan & Nicole Samson Donor Pool – 7 lives saved Ephriam & Devora Schreiber Donor Pool – 1 life saved Farzad & Sheila Shahery Donor Pool – 2 lives saved Shva Company Donor Pool – 5 lives saved Wiener, Widawsky, Rebenwurzel Donor Pool in memory of Shmuel and Yaffa Herman – 1 life saved Marjorie & Arnold Ziff Donor Pool (Anne Manning’s Donor Pool) – 1 life saved
Does Ezer Mizion provide transplants to Israel residents only?
Ezer Mizion receives Search Requests from oncology clinics around the globe. DNAmatching 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.
Due 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.
Medical science has made great strides with illnesses that, not too long ago, afforded very little hope for the patient. In some cases, even the ‘man on the street’ has become part of the remedy. Bone marrow transplants are a case in point. Bone marrow transplants have become the cure for a wide variety of life-threatening diseases ranging from many types of cancer to immunodeficiency syndromes and anemias.
WHAT IS BONE MARROW?
Bone marrow is the soft tissue inside a bone which produces the body’s blood cells (red cells, white cells and platelets).
WHAT ARE STEM CELLS?
Stem cells are immature blood cells produced in the bone marrow. They can develop into red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets.
HOW DOES A TRANSPLANT EFFECT A CURE?
A transplant donated by a healthy person can help patients with serious diseases live longer and healthier lives. If the bone marrow is damaged, the new cells produced will also be damaged. A replacement of undamaged cells will enable the body to produce healthy blood cells, thus creating the cure.
WHAT DISEASES HAVE BEEN FOUND TO BENEFIT FROM A BONE MARROW TRANSPLANT?
AML, ALL, CLL, CML, Juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia, Hodgkin lymphoma, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, severe aplastic anemia, Fanconi anemia, Paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria, Pure red cell aplasia, Amegakaryocytosis/congenital thrombocytopenia, SCID, Beta thalassemia major, Sickle Cell Disease, Krabbe disease, Hurler syndrome, MLD, ALD
EXACTLY WHAT IS TRANSPLANTED?
Three sources of cells used for transplants are:
Bone marrow (BM)
Stem cells from peripheral blood (PBSC)
Blood collected from the newborn’s umbilical cord after its birth (CB)
The doctor doing the transplant chooses the source most appropriate for the patient, taking into consideration the needs and preferences of the donor.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN AUTOLOGOUS AND ALLOGENEIC STEM CELL TRANSPLANTS?
An autologous transplant involves only the patient’s own stem cells which are then transplanted back into the patient several days later after high doses of chemo and sometimes radiation. An allogeneic stem cell transplant is done using cells from another donor.
WHY CAN’T ANY KINDLY PERSON DONATE HIS MARROW?
Human leukocyte antigens (HLA) are proteins that are present in most body cells. These antigens help identify tissue types. The immune system utilizes HLA antigens in order to identify the cells that belong in the body and the cells that do not belong in the body. If the system recognizes cells very different from itself, it will reject them.
In one’s tissue-typing system, there are two groups of antigens. One group is inherited from the mother and the other group from the father.
HLA proteins are important in determining the compatibility of donors and patients for a stem cell transplant. In order to match tissue types for a transplant, the compatibility of ten of the donor and patient antigens are checked (generally, A, DR, C, B, and DQ).
When the transplant center, to which the blood samples were sent, examine the level of compatibility, they check the genetic similarity of the patient’s and the donor’s tissue types. Usually, a compatibility of at least 8 out of 10 antigens is necessary in order to approve a donor for a transplant.
WHY IS GENETICS A SUCH A MAJOR FACTOR?
Strict matching is necessary since the key to a successful replacement is genetics. If the donor matches the recipient, the transplant is not likely to be rejected and the chances of success are excellent. A sibling is a good choice.
WHAT IF THERE IS NO SIBLING AVAILABLE OR THE SIBLINGS’ DNA DO NOT MATCH?
A request is then sent by the oncology clinic to a universal registry which will search its database for a compatible potential donor. A match may be found among the patient’s neighbors or it may be a resident of a country across the ocean. The potential donor is usually thrilled to become a crucial part of a life-saving medical miracle.
ARE ALL REGISTRIES THE SAME?
If the patient is a member of a minority ethnic group and a Registry which focuses on that ethnic group exists, a request is sent to that Registry thus greatly increasing the chances of finding a match.
HOW DOES THE REGISTRY DETERMINE DNA?
The new registrant swabs the inside of his cheek with a Q-tip. The saliva is then analyzed for its genetic components. DNA testing is costly ($50 per test) which is why a registry must put a cap on the amount of registrants it can accept. When donations are made by the public, the increased funding enables the registry to grow, thus boosting the chances of a positive response to each search request.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A BONE MARROW TRANSPLANT AND A STEM CELL TRANSPLANT?
Both are the same as far as results are concerned. However, the method of harvesting the stem cells differs. Not that long ago, stem cells were obtained from bone marrow taken from the donor. This procedure was painful for the donor and often discouraged the donation. One cannot imagine the devastation by the patient and his family when a perfectly matching donor refuses to go ahead.
WHAT IS THE PROCESS OF STEM CELL DONATION? IS THERE PAIN INVOLVED IN STEM CELL DONATION?
In recent years, the cells are harvested from the donor’s blood. Medication is given to the donor beforehand to increase the stem cells in his circulatory system. Blood is then taken much the same as when donating a pint of blood. The stem cells are extracted from the blood which is then given back to the donor. The process continues for hours but the donor is kept comfortable during the whole procedure.
In some cases, minor discomfort such as muscle aches are felt but these soon disappear. The tremendous emotional satisfaction as he watches that little ‘bag of life’ taken to his soon-to-be blood brother will eradicate any lingering pains.
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