It’s been said many times. Help others when you can. It’s a chessed. It’s the right thing to do. And, in addition, you never know when you may be on the other side of the fence. Batya is proof of this. About fifteen years ago, her daughter’s kidney issues that she had suffered with since the age of twelve reached a new low and only a kidney transplant could save her. Batya and her son were both good matches but Batya insisted that she be the one to donate. Her son has his whole life ahead of him. Should anything go wrong, she felt she could never forgive herself. Shortly after the transplant, her daughter gave birth to the first of two adorable grandchildren for Batya to cuddle and spoil. Imagine, a few days of discomfort and Batya earned grandchildren, great-grandchildren…eternity.
All was wonderful in her world until fifteen years later when Batya found herself on the other side of the fence. She wasn’t feeling well. A diagnosis was not long in coming. MDS: a life-threatening disease. . Her health condition deteriorated and blood transfusions were needed. The doctors asserted that her only chance to survive was a stem cell donation. Now it was she that needed another person with the same DNA to come forward to save her life. Ezer Mizion, the largest Jewish registry in the world, was contacted and Batya waited by the phone. Would it ring? Would a donor be found?
She didn’t have too long to wait. Afik Zack, an intern in the Justice Department, was found, from over 850,000 on the Ezer Mizion database, to be a hundred percent match.
“At first, I didn’t understand what exactly I was supposed to undergo, and I was a little nervous. But then I learned that the donation is a simple procedure, and I agreed to go ahead with it,” says Zack. “After all, life is a circle. It could be me that needed someone else to save my life. I would certainly want that person to say yes. It’s hard to describe the feeling I had when I realized that I’d done it. I’d done what other people only dream about. I had saved a life!” he added.
So far, 2,463 lifesaving transplants have taken place, thanks to the Ezer Mizion Registry. Some are from Israel. Others are from the US, Canada, South America, Europe, South Africa, Australia…wherever there are Jews. “It is a great privilege for us to be partners in saving human lives,” said Dr. Bracha Zisser, director of the Registry. “The story of Batya and Afik is a moving, gripping tale of mutual responsibility, the fundamental value of Ezer Mizion.”