A Bone Marrow Transplant: the Donating Process

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Cheek Swab Testing

Joining a Bone Marrow Registry

A potential donor’s initial contact with Ezer Mizion’s Bone Marrow Registry begins with a cheek swab sample. This will enable the registry to make a preliminary determination regarding the compatibility between the donor and a patient in need of a bone marrow transplant. His genetic information will remain on the database for decades, available for any patient whose DNA matches his. Some potential donors are contacted for further testing within a year of registration, others not for 10-20 years or not at all.

Once it had been determined that a donor is a possible genetic match, things move quickly. When a patient is in need of a bone marrow transplant, time is of essence. Further testing must be done and it cannot wait. Should the patient’s condition deteriorate, the transplant, his last chance to survive, may no longer be medically feasible.

Often, if a great deal of time has elapsed since registration, the contact info is no longer valid. The internet is then surfed until the donor is located. No effort is too much when a human life is involved.

The donor is then asked if he would like to donate. The procedure is entirely voluntary and the donor has the right to refuse at the outset or at any time. No persuasion is used leaving the decision completely up to the potential donor.

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Stem Cells

In most cases, it is a stem cell transplant rather than a bone marrow transplant that takes place. This is a much simpler procedure which results in a higher percentage of potential donors agreeing to go ahead.

What do we mean by genetic match?

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 your body and the cells that do not belong in your body. If the immune system detects cells that do not belong on your body, it will reject them, thus resulting in a failed transplant.

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Blood Samples Being Tested

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).

Usually, a compatibility of at least 8 out of 10 antigens is necessary in order to approve a donor for a transplant.

In addition to the basic testing, Ezer Mizion’s Bone Marrow Registry is committed to supporting research to enhance results of transplants and the donor may be asked to participate in this research as part of the donation process. The decision whether to participate in the research is up to the donor.

Timing

Three weeks to several months may elapse until the patient’s attending doctor will come to a decision. The Registry staff will call the donor to inform him of the results of the compatibility confirmatory testing.

The donor may be asked to donate immediately or to wait until the patient is ready. Each case is different; the timing of the donation will be based upon what is best for the donor and for the patient. After a date has been set, the preparatory stage will continue.

At the preparatory stage before the donation, the donor will speak with the Registry staff in order to learn about the process and the risks and side effects involved in giving a donation. If he chooses to donate, he will undergo blood tests and a physical examination by a physician. A detailed questionnaire is also required in addition to a signed consent form.

 

Increasing Stem Cells in the Donor

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Donating Stem Cells

On the day of the transplant, blood is taken from the donor, much the same as if he were donating blood. The stem cells are harvested from the whole blood and the remainder returned to the donor through the second arm. The process is repeated for several hours until the required amount of stem cells (depending on the size of the patient) is obtained.  So that a large amount of stem cells be available, the donor receives neupogen injections several days before the transplant to stimulate the release of stem cells from the bone marrow into the blood stream.

 

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Life-saving bag of stem cells

The Transplant

When the required amount has been accumulated, the stem cells are then infused into the body of the patient through a central line, a painless procedure. Within 2 days to several weeks, the new cells will begin to produce red cells, white cells and platelets in place of the defective ones, thus producing a cure for many life-threatening diseases.

Bone Marrow Registry Anonymity

By international law, a registry must maintain confidentiality and strict non-disclosure of donor and patient information. This policy is for the protection of both the donor and the patient.

In order to maintain confidentiality of information, donors and patients receive an identification number. These ID numbers enable doctors to share important medical information without using names or addresses. This high level of privacy is maintained throughout the stages of the process.

Patients are informed only of the age and gender of their donor. Donors are told only of the age, gender, and disease of the recipient patient.

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You saved my life!
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You saved my life!

The patient’s identity may be revealed only after at least a year has elapsed from the date of donation and the patient has expressed his agreement to disclosure and a meeting. This meeting understandably will be highly emotional with the patient and his family trying to express the unexpressable: You saved my life!

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Why Is this Tournament Different from All Other Tournaments?

golf 2017 Israel Nimrod-member of team of cancer patients who won first place in Par3
May you be a winner in the battle against cancer – the greatest tournament of all!

They won!

Each year, like many organizations, Ezer Mizion holds a golf tournament with proceeds to benefit its major programs. Ezer Mizion’s Eighth Annual Hole In One Tournament took place on November 20 at the Caesaria Golf Course in Israel to benefit its International Bone Marrow Registry which has, thus far, saved the lives of over 2500 patients around the world.

But this year was different! Continue reading Why Is this Tournament Different from All Other Tournaments?

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A Journey We Didn’t Plan Part 3 of a 4-part Series taken from the diary of Nechama Spielman

diary Nechama Spielman
Diary of the wife of a cancer patient as she journeys through the nightmare that has overtaken her life

Recap: Nechama has been dealing with her husband’s cancer

Hodu La’Shem (thank G-d). The radiation treatments have helped a lot. The tumor has shrunk which qualifies us for surgery. The remarkable precision of the timing gives us a special feeling. We are slated to go in for surgery right after Rosh Hashanah and to come home for Sukkot. Continue reading A Journey We Didn’t Plan Part 3 of a 4-part Series taken from the diary of Nechama Spielman

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Because of You!

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September 2017 –  ACTIVITY SUMMARY
37 lifesaving transplants – our record for one month!
22 from personalized donor pools
2,606 total transplants
872,375 members in registry

Below are the donor pools that saved lives this month, and their total transplants. Continue reading Because of You!

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Linked to Life: One Week

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Giving away adds, not subtracts

It’s interesting. When I was in second grade, my math teacher told me that if we take away, the total amount is less. When I grew up, I found it wasn’t true. If giving my time, my energy, my expertise made me have less in the end, then why would I and 9,000 of my fellow Linked to Life members race to click on any request that comes in and do our best to respond whenever possible? Second grade math teachers notwithstanding, giving away plusses so much more to our lives. Continue reading Linked to Life: One Week

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A Plea from a Staff Member

Dear very wonderful people,

My everyday reality takes me through Ezer Mizion’s various departments and branches. There, I encounter a large number of sick people ­– people with physical maladies, mental illness, mobility impairments, and mental disabilities. Many days, I come home and cry over everything I’ve seen over the course of the day – the unending struggle that these patients and their family face! Their fear and anxiety over the future! The pressure of having to function in the midst of this volcanic eruption…

For many of them, illness knocks at the door as a totally unexpected surprise, interrupting rosy dreams and a marvelous life routine. For others, illness is a long, drawn-out agony, what people call “an unending chain of troubles.” For all of them, it hurts, causes an upheaval, and is very, very difficult! Yet, in the midst of all this suffering, there are wonderful individuals among us, who have joined as one, warm, embracing family (Ezer Mizion) to envelop these people with love, functional assistance, and physical and emotional support, a family that thinks, all the time, how to make it easier for people to better deal with their health challenges.

Our greatest joy as a family is to see those people who emerge from the circle of pain and come join us as partners on the giving end. Thank G-d, there are many of them!

Our greatest difficulty is to say a final “good-bye!!” Unfortunately, several times each month, we must part with dear people, whom we loved very much.

I cry a lot especially when I meet sick mothers, perhaps because my mother got sick and left me when I was just 12 years old, and I deeply miss her.

And perhaps because I myself am a mother to wonderful children, and every pain that veers from the standard really stresses me out…

I have taken upon myself to help recruit the funding for 100 bone marrow samples, on behalf of those mothers for whom life has become a “stop watch,” ticking away ominously, mothers who are fiercely battling to remain alive…

I’m sure that you’ll help me and donate at least NIS 180 through my page!

https://www.ami.org.il/partners/campaign/campaign/rochi-meth-shechter/

Together, we’ll bring in a lot more!!

You can push REPLY to respond, and Ezer Mizion will get back to you to arrange the donation.

With appreciation in advance for your coming forward to help,

Rochie  Meth – Schechter

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Because of You My Children Have an Abba (Father)

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Success of a bone marrow transplant hinges on genetic matching

Isn’t every child supposed to have both an Abba and an Ima (father and mother)? Two year old Naomi and her baby brother almost didn’t. Now their mother stood there in tears of joy when she met Aryeh. “Because of you, my children have an Abba,” she cried over and over again.

Who is Aryeh? We’ll let Abba tell that story. Continue reading Because of You My Children Have an Abba (Father)

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She Opened Up My Heart

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A Special Marriage

The gentle, loving glance of a freshly-minted chasan (groom) to his kallah (bride) as they sit on their new couch together, sharing their innermost thoughts. A special moment made even more special by the newlyweds themselves – two young people born with Downs Syndrome.

Marriage? Impossible, the naysayers had said. How will she…? How can he…?

But with the right kind of assistance, it became possible and many have found the ultimate in fulfillment with several organizations in Israel holding their hand. Continue reading She Opened Up My Heart

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Giving at the Workplace via CFC

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Since 2007 Ezer Mizion has been chosen as a participant in the U.S. government program’s Combined Federal Campaign that offers federal employees the opportunity of making contributions to non-profit organizations by payroll deductions. Continue reading Giving at the Workplace via CFC

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Volunteering: What the Kids Have Discovered

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Volunteering offers so much more satisfaction!

Some say that the new generation is steeped in materialism and can’t see past their ipod screens. Is it true? A recent event in Israel honoring junior volunteers yielded some surprises.

Last summer, M, a sixth grader, noticed something strange going on in her neighbor’s home. Continue reading Volunteering: What the Kids Have Discovered

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