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.
Ari* was born with SCID, a severe immunodeficiency syndrome. It was essential that Ari not be exposed to normal day-to-day bacteria, allowing him almost no contact with others including family members. A simple cold can be fatal. The soothing hug that only a Mommy could give, the delight of swooping down the slide at the local playground – all this was unknown to Ari. His world consisted of only hospitals, doctors and scary needles. His future? Babies like Ari born with this rare genetic disorder usually do not survive their early years due to severe, recurrent infections.
“A bone marrow transplant could save his life,” his doctor announced at one of the numerous medical meetings.
“Give it to him! As soon as possible!” his parents jumped from their seats, grabbing hold of the lifeline that was offered to them.
“I wish it were that simple,” the doctor continued. “You see, to be successful, the cells have to come from a donor whose DNA matches Ari’s. Bone marrow transplants are used for many diseases including leukemia and many other forms of cancer and they literally save lives. But nothing can be done until we find a genetic match and so far…there is none. We’ve put in a request to Ezer Mizion. They are the largest Jewish registry and since you are Jewish and genetics is based on ethnicity, we hope a match will be found there. They have over 830,000 people registered.
Pray that we find the perfect one.”
Ari’s parents didn’t have to be told twice to pray. Their Siddur did not leave their side. They understood that a match could mean a normal life for their son and no match? No match would mean…
One day their phone rang. The ring sounded like every other ring. But the voice on the other end – it was ecstatic. It was euphoric. And it said the words they had been praying for. “We found a match!!!”
A young woman in her early twenties had registered at Ezer Mizion’s International Bone Marrow Registry together with her friends, never thinking that she would ever actually be called. She had heard how many lives Ezer Mizion has saved. Over two thousand. But she also knew of many people who were still waiting for that life-saving match. And many people for whom it was already too late. And so she and her friends spent ten minutes answering routine questions. Ten minutes that would later save a little child’s life. And his children’s lives. And their children’s lives. Eternity.
The former ‘Bubble Baby’ chased another bubble and nearly caught it in his pudgy hands. His sweet, little face mirrored his utter joy.
“Thank you, Hashem! Thank you,” his mother whispered.
What if there had been no Ezer Mizion?