The President of the World Marrow Donor Association, Professor Jeff Szer, flew in from Australia to join Ezer Mizion’s Bone Marrow Registry in celebrating its historic milestone of One Million registrants. . The celebration was attended by Israel’s Minister of Health and Minister of Defense, dignitaries and leaders from the medical and community sectors, together with financial sponsors, stem cell donors and recipients. During the event three patients met – for the first time – the bone marrow donors whose transplant had given them life and hope. One cannot imagine the electrifying energy that permeated the hall as the three were introduced to their saviors. One pair was Irit who recovered from myelofibrosis, a disease that affects the bone marrow, and donor. At the moment of their encounter, Irit said, “The second they told me that I had a donor, I wanted to know who it was, but they told me that for a full year, I cannot uncover the donor’s identity. The day that the year was over, I went to fill out the forms
A central feature of the celebration was Professor Szer’s excellent presentation on Marrow Transplantation as A Global Phenomenon: Current Status and Worldwide Trends. Bone Marrow Transplant Units from all over the country gathered to glean insights from the Professor of WMDA.
Prof Szer visited Ezer Mizion’s new registry facility and its on-site collection center which opened in October 2018, and is the world’s first apheresis center fully integrated within a registry.
Ezer Mizion is the largest Jewish registry and the fifth largest registry in the world. A major factor in its expansion lies in the generosity of Jewish communities around the globe in financing the highly costly genetic testing of each potential donor. The global Jewish community can be rightly proud of having created an ‘insurance policy’ for cancer patients the world over whose genetic makeup necessitates an ethnically Jewish DNA to match their own to ensure a successful transplant.
Another major factor in the phenomenal growth of Ezer Mizion’s registry is the willingness of Israel’s residents sign up to help save a life. Extremely rare is the registrant who has found to be a match and refuses due to his busy schedule or fear of minor discomfort. The joy in the voice of the potential donor when he receives THE call can be matched only by the joy one would feel on being informed he has won the billion dollar lottery. Per capita, Israel has more registrants in its bone marrow registry than any other country. Proportionate to the population, Israel is the Number One country with the highest percentage of its citizens stepping up to the plate to help save the lives of cancer patients whose sole chance of survival is a bone marrow transplant.
Prior to the founding of the registry in 1979, the chances of a Jewish patient finding a match in a timely manner, before it’s too late, was approximately 8%. Most requests were returned with the ominous words: No Match Found, a virtual death sentence. Currently the chances are 76%. Ezer Mizion has reached the million mark but will certainly not stop there. 24% of the requests received cannot be met. These families wait in hope and prayer for the jubilant call saying, “Yes! We have a match!” Together- Ezer Mizion and all of you out there – we will continue to grow. Together we will continue to save Jewish lives.