Based on articles in:
Nov. 18, 2014
By: Noam Barkan and Eitan Glickman, and
Nov. 18, 2014
By: Chagit Ron-Rabinowitz
When Amit Kadosh was 6 years old and courageously battling leukemia, the whole country rallied in response to an Ezer Mizion campaign to find the DNA- matching bone marrow donor who could save her. Now, four years after her recovery, Amit Kadosh celebrated her Bat Mitzvah. “When I was sick, they told me that if I fight, I’ll get to my Bat Mitzvah, so I gave a big push,” she told the hundreds of teary-eyed guests, “And now – I have reached that moment.”
If Amit’s face looks familiar, it is because Amit was the poster child in the huge campaign organized by Ezer Mizion to stimulate an influx of new bone marrow registrants. That day 64,000 (!) samples were collected to be genetically tested. Countless families, including Amit’s, held their collective breath, praying that one of the new registrants would be a perfect DNA match for their loved one. Thanks to those samples, more than a hundred life-saving bone marrow transplants have taken place.
No matching sample was found for Amit in Israel, but her parents refused to give up. With the help of Ezer Mizion, a partial match was found in the US. They packed their life up and flew to Duke University Hospital. “We had some really tough days,” her father reported then, “but she fought like a tiger.”
Amit’s Bat Mitzvah was celebrated together with hundreds of guests, including medical staff who had cared for her during her illness. Everyone smothered her with hugs and kisses and cheered for their heroine.
Amit, clad in a majestic, white gown, a sparkling tiara in her hair, did not stop smiling. “I am so excited,” she said, and the tears in the hall began flowing. “The years of my illness were years of weakness and pain. Many of you helped me get through them – and for that, I thank you. During my illness, I needed tons of help. I tried to do it on my own. Sometimes I succeeded and sometimes not. But my parents fought for my recovery. My big brother Omer also helped a lot. He always cheered me up and gave me the good feeling that there was someone who understood me. It is thanks to them that I am here today, celebrating my happy occasion with you.”
Amit had a message to convey: “It is important for me to tell all the sick children out there not to give in to disease. Keep fighting with all you’ve got, because in the end, you will win. I had some hard times, but I got over them. Today I am a regular kid in Junior High, and aside from being careful to drink only mineral water and to use sunglasses, I have no restrictions that remind me I was once sick.”
“At one point in the treatments, I wanted to give up. I just couldn’t take it anymore. Then my parents flew my best friend out to Duke. She told me that I had to fight. If I wouldn’t fight, I wouldn’t get to my Bat Mitzvah. That gave me the push to keep going. And here I am– I made it! This is a very moving moment for me.”
Amit’s father Yuval, who now counsels families who are in a similar situation, could barely conceal his deep emotion at the event, and likewise her mother, Naomi, and brother, Omer (14). “We are all thrilled,” Yuval said. “I love you so much, my beloved daughter, and there is no way to describe what I am feeling now. We wish you a happy, healthy, good life and that G-d should watch over you. Grow and flourish, and always remember that Ima and Abba will be here for you, no matter where and no matter what. Nothing in the world can stand in your way.”
Turning to the large crowd, Yuval said, “When we set out on the campaign to save Amit’s life, we chose the slogan, ‘We are all one family!’ Every day we got to know more new ‘family members,’ good-hearted people who were ready to turn over worlds to help and support us and bring Amit to recovery.
If it were up to me, I would invite to this celebration all 64,000 people who stood on line to donate samples the day of Ezer Mizion’s campaign, all 18,000 soldiers who donated at the various army bases, all 13,000 volunteers who put the unprecedented campaign together, all the hundreds of thousands of people who donated a total of 14 million NIS so that the samples could be processed, vastly enlarging the bone marrow registry plus all those people who didn’t forget us when we went to the U.S. and sent us packages with goodies and encouraging letters. I want to tell all you wonderful people today a huge thank you. This feeling of brotherhood is unique to our people.
“I prayed that we would come home with Amit on her feet and we did. I prayed that we would dance at her Bat Mitzvah party – and today we are here. With G-d’s help, we hope to see each one of you at her wedding too!”