Medical science has made great strides with illnesses that, not too long ago, afforded very little hope for the patient. In some cases, even the ‘man on the street’ has become part of the remedy. Bone marrow transplants are a case in point. Bone marrow transplants have become the cure for a wide variety of life-threatening diseases ranging from many types of cancer to immunodeficiency syndromes and anemias.
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 andlymphoma in addition to other diseases such assickle cell anemia andSCID 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.
Everyone dreams about it. Very few ever have the opportunity. I was one of those very few. True, I didn’t jump into the ocean and save a child from drowning or dash into a burning building to save a baby but I did save a life. A forty-year-old cancer patient had only one chance to survive—a bone marrow transplant. A genetic match is vital for success and I was that genetic match. An Ezer Mizion staff member asked me if I would do it. Would I do it???! How could I not do it?! How could I live the rest of my life knowing that because of a little discomfort, a little inconvenience, a young woman was prevented from living the rest of hers? Continue reading Saving a Life: The See-Saw Remains on Up
Avigayil has successfully trained many in public speaking as head of TED, a worldwide organization whose website attracts viewers that number into the millions. She is passionate about her profession and believes anyone can speak publicly if he is excited about his topic. One would assume that if Avigayil were to take the podium herself, Public Speaking would be her focus. But she says otherwise. “There is something I am even more enthusiastic about. In fact, if it were not for that subject, I would not be here today. What is it? It’s leukemia.
Three years ago, when I came to Oranit, Ezer Mizion’s Cancer Support Center, to donate some LEGO sets, they asked me to work with children who have cancer and with children whose parents have cancer. “Wait! Stop! That’s more than I bargained for! All I came for was a one-time donation of LEGO .” I felt overwhelmed. This wasn’t what I had planned on. But the angels at Ezer Mizion made me see how much more I could do. I was frightened at the thought. After all, the word ‘cancer’ is unmentionable and I’d be not only using the word but diving right in. Lego therapy is what they called it. Something to enable the child to be a child in spite of the raging river of terror that threatens to drown him.
I was hesitant. At the time, my wife and I had been married for some time and still had no children. A friend gave me some great advice: If you want Hashem to give you children, volunteer to take care of His children. That clinched it. I was still hesitant, still frightened but I began with baby steps, thus launching my career as Lego Man. We have two little girls now. I can never thank my friend enough for his advice.
When I see those suffering children, I understand their inner turmoil. I know what it means to be a child with a sick parent.
“I’m sorry. He won’t be back in the office until a week from Tuesday. Please call then.” A typical response. Professional. No complaints. We all understand that being out of the office means being unavailable for work-related matters and we don’t expect him to interrupt his golf game or his very important meeting in China to answer our questions. However, when it comes to saving a life, Ezer Mizion will not accept such a response. What happened? Here’s the story.
Ezer Mizion’s Bone Marrow Registry has saved the lives of over 2000 patients around the globe. Recently, a call came in from Schneider’s Hospital that a six year old child needed a transplant as soon as possible. Is there a genetic match available? A search was done. Success. Among the 800,000 registrants on the database, an excellent DNA match was found. The potential donor was contacted. She’ll be happy to donate but there’s one problem. The next level of testing must be done asap and she is currently in Brno in the Czech Republic. “Can I make an appointment with the lab for when I return in a few weeks?” A natural response. Polite. Professional. The Ezer Mizion staff member could simply note on records: Donor out of country. Testing will be done when returns. The file would then be closed pending her return. The patient? Perhaps his condition would still be such that he can benefit from the transplant. Perhaps not. Ezer Mizion was not going to take that chance.
Linked to Life, another division of Ezer Mizion that utilizes a What’s App program to make vital contacts worldwide, was called. Thousands of screens lit up while the test tubes were being prepared. ‘We need a volunteer to drive vital test tubes from Petach Tikva to the airport in Tel Aviv to meet someone going on the 3:50 flight to Vienna. In moments, a volunteer responded and the tubes were on their way. While he was driving, screens lit up again looking for someone scheduled to be on the flight to take the tubes. Bzzzz. Responding. Am at airport at Gate 123. I’ll take it. Another Linked to Life volunteer was waiting at the Prague airport and drove the package to the Chabad House. The head of the Chabad House drove through the night to Brno and used his contacts to have the clinic opened in the middle of the night to draw blood from the potential donor. More clicks while the now-filled test tubes were making their way back to Brno. Anyone traveling from Prague to Israel on next flight? By the next morning, another Ezer Mizion Linked to Life volunteer was waiting in the airport at Tel Aviv to transport the tubes to the Bone Marrow Registry in Petach Tikvah. Less than twenty-four hours. Mission accomplished.
Living in the US and like to join Linked to Life? SMS: 011 972 52 580 8936
The bone marrow transplant was over. There she sat blowing bubbles for her pre-schooler. Together with several neighborhood children, he ran after them on his chubby legs reaching out to touch the effervescent, multi-hued balls of magic, then watching, mesmerized, as they mysteriously made their way, flying up, up, up to never-neverland.
Young children are fascinated by bubbles. Yet certainly no child would want to live in one. As her tiny son ran on the grass with his little friends, she offered up a fervent prayer of gratitude. Up until recently, her son was called the Bubble Baby. He was forced to live in a virtual ‘bubble’, a completely sterile environment, to save his young life. Continue reading A Bone Marrow Transplant for The Bubble Baby