Ezer Mizion, world’s largest Jewish registry, has reached the MILLION MARK! What does that mean? The success of a bone marrow transplant is dependent on the genetic match between donor and recipient. With Israel’s wide range of ethnic groups, many of them IDF recruits, we have succeeded in amassing a registry of ONE MILLION potential donors. These registrants are of highly varied genetic makeup so that when a cancer patient is in need of a bone marrow transplant, the chances of finding a DNA match in time, before it’s too late, are very good! However, there are still many who wait in hope and prayer for the match that will mean LIFE and we will not stop enlarging the registry until until every single request received from any part of the world can be answered with a triumphant, YES! WE HAVE A MATCH!
Flying 35,000 feet above the Atlantic Ocean is not an easy job! Ofer had already spent 17 years as a fighter pilot in the IDF. In 2003 he left the reserves and joined El-Al full time. “Most people don’t realize that being a pilot is a very dangerous profession. When you know it is dangerous, you are safe but when you think it is easy, when you’re a cowboy, you are unsafe! A pilot’s job is to always be alert in case something happens.” Ofer always remained alert with hundreds of travelers under his wing, quite literally! Continue reading Flying High
Utter shock. That’s what I felt sitting there in the doctor’s office. It was a busy time for me. I’m a lawyer and I was in the middle of trying a complex murder case. But it was time for my annual physical and, feeling virtuous and responsible, I took time off to have it done even though I had zero symptoms. Then the doctor asked me to sit down. Something in his serious tone of voice told me I would not be getting back to my murder case too quickly. Continue reading But I Feel Fine
Everyone knows that the number of cancer patients has skyrocketed. Studies give us numbers but it’s hard to empathize with a number. So let’s meet some of the people behind the numbers. Like J.G.. He’s young with two kids, aged 5 and 7. He works as a massage therapist and personal trainer. But for a long period, he wasn’t able to work at all. Actually that’s not true. He was working very hard to remain positive during his stint with chemo. “It was tough,” he says. “The hardest part was being away from my kids. They were living their lives and I couldn’t share it. I just ached for that hug around the knees when I would open the door. I thought that after chemo, I’d be done but the doctors told me I needed a bone marrow transplant. They were not too encouraging as I had an unusual chromosome and they felt it would be difficult to find me a genetic match. So here i was, a father of 2 small kids and being told that I probably will not be here to watch them grow up. Well, let me tell you, Ezer Mizion found me not one match but 4. I try to give back to others now but it can never be enough to pay back Ezer Mizion for what they did for me.”
R.S. is a middle-aged, upbeat lady with a bouncy personality. “Who, me?” she thought to herself when her doctor sent her to a hematologist. She had come in for a routine physical and her blood count was a bit high. Her daughter-in-law, who is a physician, later said she never would have sent a patient to a hematologist for such a low count but Rita is eternally grateful that her doctor was the cautious type.
Things began to heat up at this point with test after test and each doctor looking more serious. It was lymphoma. Rita was devastated. “My heart was pounding as each test was done. I calmed down when the team presented a plan for me. It made me feel secure and they assured me that things looked good. Facing the unknown was so hard. I made a conscious decision not to fall apart. I tried to think only about what I had to do, not get emotional over the future. I would tell anyone newly diagnosed- Stay focused, Take it one day at a time. Be proactive and check out a/t that looks questionable. If you live in a small town, don’t be satisfied with the medical care available. Seek out the best even if you have to relocate temporarily. And, above all, don’t give up.”
S.P. was diagnosed in 1998 and given 10-15 years to live. He had three kids ranging from two to nine. Even the oldest was not told what is going on. They just knew that their father wasn’t feeling well sometimes. “Boy, was that an understatement. The side effects of the meds were horrendous, including depression and suicide tendencies. I found out later that most people on these meds take disability but I’m the type that doesn’t give up so I kept on working. This treatment wasn’t given until many years later, in 2014. By this time, I was newly remarried and my kids were adults, not getting along very well with their stepmother. There I was, lying there helpless and having to listen to the people I loved most argue with each other regarding my medical decisions. Not fun. But things are great now. I had my transplant. I’m much stronger and my family has gelled. We’re all on the same page.
I used to be very involved in sports. Those days are gone for now but I have a new hobby. I’ve discovered painting. I find creating watercolor designs to be very satisfying. And the results are quite good if I do say so myself.”
Three real people. Three real people who were floating through life until they reached a bump in the road. They could be your neighbors. Or your cousin’s neighbors. Stay tuned till next week when we will meet with more.
What is a good day? Many people would say that a good day is when everything you planned works. No hitches. No slip-ups. And what does one do when there are hitches? Get frustrated, of course. Rant and rave. Find someone to blame. Typical, right? Very human.
But when someone’s life is at stake, we can’t afford to be human. Shouting will get us nowhere. So we become creative instead. Continue reading It Was A Good Day
He was eight years old. Third grade is a time for small boys to learn multiplication tables in the classroom and how to pitch a ball in the schoolyard. But Naftali* had learned neither of these. Instead he learned about IV’s and scary hospital equipment, about hair falling out and about roommates who ‘disappeared’ never to return. Naftali had cancer. The medical staff called his parents in for a meeting. There was only one recourse left: a bone marrow transplant. It would save his life but a genetic match would have to be found soon or… it may be too late. Jews will genetically match other Jews and so Ezer Mizion was contacted. Ezer Mizion’s registry with close to a million potential donors is the largest Jewish registry in the world, but, for Naftali, it was not large enough. There was no match. Continue reading L’chaim! To Life
She’s back. Our data processer is back in her usual seat, glued to her computer as usual. Entering the data of recent donations to Ezer Mizion’s Bone Marrow Registry. Doing her part to help save lives around the globe. As if everything were normal. As if she had not just now come back from Israel. As if she herself had not just donated her stem cells to save the life of a middle-aged woman with AML.
But there’s a difference. There’s a glow on her face. While her co-workers continue their varied tasks to benefit the Registry, she, a young girl, had experienced something that most people can only dream of. She had saved a life.
We’ll let her tell you her story. Continue reading What Was It Like?
Four years ago she had registered with Ezer Mizion’s Bone Marrow Registry, never expecting to actually be contacted. The call came as a complete surprise. It was the registry informing her that she was a possible genetic match for a young child. She could save his life! She was glad she was home to receive the call. Normally, she would be at work and wouldn’t have received the message until evening, perhaps even a couple of days later when she would get around to checking her messages. But today she was home and she told the caller to send someone right over.
Further testing had to be done and, for that, blood would have to be drawn. “Let’s get started right away,” she said. “I don’t want that child and his parents to suffer a minute more than they have to.” The Registry staff was grateful that she didn’t ask to procrastinate and made arrangements for the blood to be drawn that very day so that testing can begin.
The phlebotomist continues the story. Continue reading Too Minor to Mention
It’s funny. We’re so happy to have our family members that when one of them has a birthday, we give him a gift. Shouldn’t we instead be giving a gift in gratitude to the One who gave us a family? Like Yaakov did? Continue reading Now That’s A Birthday Gift!
At his bris (circumcision), they named him Imri. He was blessed that his parents merit bringing him to the chupah (wedding canopy), a simple, often –taken-for-granted blessing. At the time, it seemed simple. Now they are not so sure. In fact, they are not certain that his mother will enjoy the deep satisfaction of bringing her little boy even to first grade. You see, two-year-old Imri was diagnosed at two months with DBA, a rare disease which does not allow him to manufacture blood cells. He has no clotting system or immune system. When his mother brought him to the ER, the nurse immediately snatched him away and rushed him to the trauma unit. His hemoglobin was 2.5, the level of someone who has passed away. In addition, he has recently developed MDS, a rare blood disease for children which often develops into leukemia. The unfathomable has become all too real for this family. Imri Chai may not live past toddlerhood. Continue reading Let’s Keep on Trying