In recent years, a bone marrow transplant has been proven to be the cure for a myriad of diseases. Many forms of cancer including leukemia and lymphoma in addition to other diseases such as sickle cell anemia and SCID are only some of the life-threatening illnesses that have bowed to its power. Like penicillin, a bone marrow transplant can save lives. But unlike penicillin, it cannot simply be purchased at the local pharmacy.
Like any transplant, the bone marrow must be a genetic match to the recipient so that his body will accept it. Unlike blood donations where the blood type and the Rh factor must match, DNA matching involves many more components. Finding that match is often described as similar to finding the proverbial needle in the haystack.
WHAT IS A BONE MARROW REGISTRY?
A bone marrow registry is a database of potential donors who have been genetically tested and await a patient in need of a transplant whose DNA matches theirs.
HOW DOES A REGISTRY ACHIEVE SUCCESS?
The first element in achieving success is size. It is obvious that a registry with a larger amount of registrants has a greater chance of finding a match for each patient. Ezer Mizion, founded with 5000 registrants, did not locate a match for its first patient. Now the largest Jewish registry in the world with over 800,000 registrants, Ezer Mizion saves approximately 28 lives per month!
The second element is diversity. DNA is based on ethnics. Ethnic diversity is, therefore, a necessary factor in finding a match patients of varied ethnicity. The Jewish nation is composed of peoples from areas as diverse as Britain, Russia and Iran and it is vital that each group be amply represented in the Registry.
And the third element is good health and youth. A successful registry must be composed of registrants who will remain on the database for decades, thus increasing the chances for a larger segment of registrants to eventually be found to be a match.
HOW HAS EZER MIZION ADDRESSED THESE ELEMENTS?
In 2005, Ezer Mizion entered into a partnership with the Israel Defense Force. This momentous agreement would now enable the IDF to not only protect its citizens as an army but also help to save the lives of Jews around the globe. Each induction center is equipped with an Ezer Mizion booth enabling the recruit to register as a potential bone marrow donor by means of a simple cheek swab.
IDF recruits are young and healthy and will remain on the database until they become senior citizens. Extensive contact information enable the Registry to remain in touch with the recruit as he moves through the various stages of his life.
IDF recruits are also of diverse ethnic groups which has greatly increased the chances of a patients of Bukharin, Iranian, Russian, Iraqi, Ukrainian and other minority group descent to find a DNA match. With over half the registrants now originally IDF recruits, a positive response to each search request has increased many times over. 326 lives were saved in 2016 alone!