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.
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
“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
For more than twenty years, Lieutenant Colonel Yossie Cohen has been involved in extensive military operational activity as, until recently, head of the General Staff’s Operations Brigade for the Southern Front. He was engaged in many a battle for his country and it was he who coined the names of operations “Protective Edge” and “Pillar of Defense.” Involved in life and death decisions, the few moments he had spent as a young man ten years before at the Ezer Mizion Registration Station, filling out a one-page form was certainly not in the forefront of his mind. Continue reading A Shining Example
Last week, Racheli Klakner (39), a lawyer and arbitrator from Ganei Tikvah, received an unexpected envelope in the mail: An honorary medallion and letter of thanks from Ezer Mizion’s International Bone Marrow Donor Registry for her responding to the call to save a life with her bone marrow donation.
A few years ago, Racheli had gotten a phone call from Ezer Mizion’s registry informing her that she was found to be a good match for a bone marrow donation for a patient who needed her stem cells in order to survive and get better.
Klakner was thrilled by the phone call and felt that a huge privilege had fallen in her lap. Accompanied by her husband and son, she went to a meeting to hear about the options and the procedures. After reading articles and research studies, they decided to make the donation in the operating room under full anesthesia. Last week, she received an honorary medallion from Ezer Mizion for her efforts.
It is very important to Klakner to raise awareness about the importance of donating stem cells and saving lives. She wants to convey this message and tell her story, for the benefit of all the people who are afraid or are put off by the idea.
“If it will encourage others to donate, if they will come to understand the significance and the power of giving, if they will grasp what it is to save the life of another person, or if anyone who is uncertain about donating stem cells will be persuaded by my words to go ahead with it, then I will have succeeded in saving another life, and it is well worth it.”
Caesaria Golf Course in Israel changes its face every Thanksgiving weekend. A Peter Dye course, it poses an invigorating challenge to the best of players while remaining enjoyable to the average golfer. On each Thanksgiving weekend, however, the challenges consist of so much more than hills and handicaps. Each player enters the course with a sense of purpose. He is there to help save lives. Every stroke is a strike against cancer.
The event benefits Ezer Mizion’s International Jewish Bone Marrow Registry which has saved the lives of over 2000 Jews around the globe. These were cancer patients whose sole chance of survival had been a transplant. The life-saving transplant could only have taken place if a genetically matching donor was found. Ezer Mizion’s Registry, the largest Jewish registry in the world with over 670,000 potential donors, found those DNA matches, thus providing a future for young grandparents, Mommies and Daddies of young families and tiny children who would now be able to grow up.
‘Hole-in-One’ Donor Pool has been created whereby all proceeds of the annual golf event are earmarked for genetic testing for a specific block of potential donors. The committee heads are notified each time a transplant of stem cells by a donor, whose genetic testing was funded by the Pool, takes place. The notification begins with the electrifying words: You have saved a life. To date,16 lives have been saved by the Hole-in-One pool since its inception seven years ago. As if to encourage this year’s participants, three of those sixteen transplants took place in October of 2016.
What do the participants think? Let’s hop in a golf cart and ask them. Ran Saher, CEO of Maccabi Healthcare excitedly informs all around him, “Today wasn’t only about winning. It was about saving lives! Says Sheldon Shein, Executve Chairman of Hennig Diamonds: Playing in the Ezer Mizion tournament makes you think. You realize that there’s a lot bigger things in life than getting the ball in the hole. By joining the tournament, we can accomplish a ‘hole’ lot. Jackie Mukmelm, CEO and President of MAN Properties, “Just imagine a person who has given up hope and thinks that he will soon be leaving his family forever. Then one day, he receives a phone call that he never thought he would get. It’s Ezer Mizion and they found a DNA match. He’s going to live! Wow! And to think that we, with our playing here today, accomplished that!
Thanks to all of you- those residing in Israel and those who visited Israel from across the ocean- for participating. We look forward to your joining us next year on November 20th, 2017.
Congratulations to our 2016 winners.
First Place: Stephane Benguigui, David Dadi, David Fitoussi, Jonathon Ohayon
Second Place: Mark Joffee, Saul Katzman, Neil Rubinstein, David Turner
Third Place: Elizur Agus, Eytan Bar-Chama, Jack Garih, Zev Weissberg
Most Honest Team: Ari Gruenspecht, Aaron Miller, Daniel Rubel, Simmy Zimbalist