In spite of the serious effects of the Coronavirus in Italy, a cancer patient there received a bone marrow donation from Israel • Director of Ezer Mizion’s Registry: “A tremendous mission”
In the shadow of the spread of the Covid-19 epidemic in the world and its especially harsh effects in Italy, a lifesaving stem cell donation was sent last Wednesday from a donor in Israel to a cancer patient in Italy. For that patient, this delivery of stem cells was a ticket to recovery and life! This feat was accomplished thanks to Ezer Mizion’s International Bone Marrow Donor Registry, which continues functioning despite the unprecedented challenges of this trying period.
At Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport handover hub, an Ezer Mizion Registry representative personally delivered the small package of stem cells to a courier who came especially for this mission from Germany. The courier then transported the stem cells to the hospital in Italy.
More than one million potential stem cell donors who each gave a DNA sample are listed in the Registry. In practice, all the registries in the world are connected via an online network, enabling them to coordinate among themselves when necessary.
In a conversation with Yisrael Hayom, Dr. Bracha Zisser, Director of the Registry, explained the process and discussed the continued activity of the Registry in the shadow of the Coronavirus pandemic. “First a search is done within the family for a matching stem cell donor. Medical teams of patients who do not find a match in the family, search in the international registry network, which pinpoints potential genetically matching donors in registries around the world. In this case, after they saw that we have a matching donor, an official request was submitted to Ezer Mizion’s Registry for workup and stem cell collection.”
Regarding Ezer Mizion’s important work during these complex times, Zisser said: “The situation is especially problematic due to the fact that these patients, who are receiving chemotherapy treatments, cannot wait for six months or until the Coronavirus problem will be resolved. Our primary challenge is how to send the bone marrow unit when so many of the flight routes have been shut down.
“In this area, both the Ministry of Health and the National Security Council cooperated with us successfully, and I am happy to say that the right solutions were found, with the help of airport authorities. In spite of the difficult course in this challenging time, the stem cell unit reached its destination. Here is another tremendous mission of saving a life,” she summed up with satisfaction.
Coronavirus – its tentacles have entered every area of our lives. Schools, shuls, work, stores…all closed. Weddings planned in detail for months are held in primitive standards with few attendees. And then there are the sick. A young mother with leukemia has been waiting in hope and prayer for a genetic match to be found so that she may receive the stem cell transplant that will save her life. At long last, one was found! He has an appointment at the hospital to donate his stem cells. Her life will be saved. Will it happen?
Ezer Mizon operates one of the few stem cell collection centers in the world located outside of a hospital setting. Ezer Mizion has accepted this significant undertaking in order to ensure that patients in need of stem cell transplants that these hospitals provide can receive this lifesaving treatment. We are proud to be part of another Covid-19 collaborative, working together in these trying times with other entities to ensure the success of our shared lifesaving mission.
All of Ezer Mizion’s varied departments have rallied to the cause. Linked to Life, a network which organizes rides and transportation of vital needs worldwide, has been greatly involved. Ezer Mizion’s Mental Health Division provides aid and support throughout the year to mental health patients and their families. This aid is vital to enable them to maintain a normal life routine, especially at this time of instability.
A request went out to a group in Bnai Brak on Wednesday at 10:06 PM:
We need your help to get out a small aid kit to the patients to ease these difficult days for them. We cannot provide them with a cure, but we can and must make life easier and more manageable for them. Task: To take envelopes with kits for distribution to families of mental health patients in Bnei Brak — 250 addresses.to be put down outside the door. The information and details of the family written on the envelope are confidential. Who can help with the distribution?
[Mar. 18, 10:08 p.m.] Response from dispatcher:
Listen to me and listen well. You never in your life saw such a thing…More than 200 addresses were taken by you angels of chessed.in two minutes. May we merit a yeshuah very very soon!
I have tears in my eyes. I’m sure you do, too! May Hashem pay you your just reward!
The world has ground to a halt. Uncertainty, confusion, and worry fill every heart, and it seems that the Coronavirus has pushed aside every other concern
But not the thousands struggling with serious illness, special needs, or other substantial challenges. These people, who are assisted at ordinary times by Ezer Mizion’s huge support system, continue to cope now, too, with the illness, the special need, or the mental disorder. As difficult as it is for everyone, for them the situation is virtually impossible.
How can parents take care of the children who are at home, without any school or day-care, and at the same time be with their child hospitalized with cancer?! What can they do with a family member who is battling mental illness, when this tense situation triggers his terrible outbursts, and they can’t even take him outside a bit so as to calm him down?! How do you occupy a child with special needs in the confines of four walls, when he can’t sit quietly for even a minute?!
Ezer Mizion’s hotline is the answer to these and many other such questions. With the outbreak of Coronavirus in Israel, Ezer Mizion understood that the services given all year round would need to be adapted to the situation according to Health Department directives, and they immediately got to work on doing so.
A special counseling and support hotline was opened at *2236, providing a response in a range of areas: mental health, the elderly, cancer patients, special needs, and more.
In collaboration with local municipalities and Social Services departments, Ezer Mizion branches across the country began functioning as emergency stations and vital services were stepped up, in accordance with needs as they arise.
The Phones Don’t Stop Ringing
Print and digital media ads were published, listing details of Ezer Mizion branches, hours, and contact information of branch directors and service providers.
The phones don’t stop ringing. Hundreds of calls are coming in on a range of subjects. They are responded to and addressed with Ezer Mizion’s trademark efficiency, graciousness, and professionalism.
There are also the responses given before the calls: Along with the ongoing support for cancer patients and their families, hundreds of special craft kits were delivered to the families of patients across the country, to keep kids busy and free up parents to deal with the battle for their loved one’s life. One-on-one mentoring continues (as long as it will be permitted by the Ministry of Health) and individual therapies and personal emotional intervention for cancer patient families are also provided. Hot meals are still being brought to families homes. Deliveries will continue as long as permitted.
In addition to hotline teams that are responding to incoming calls, the Mental Health division initiates contact with mental health patients and their families, helping maintain calm and picking up on distress signals in time, ensuring provision of a timely, appropriate response. There has been an understandable unprecedented peak in requests for assistance in cases of anxiety and depression, relating to the unstable health, social and financial impact of Covid-19.
The Geriatric Services Division provides homecare attendant services and extensive support to the elderly, maintaining their daily routine, meeting their unique needs, and assisting this high risk population. Special supervision is given to ensure that the attendants fulfill Ministry of Health requirements and do not abandon the patients for whom they are responsible.
While all group meeting and activities have been suspended by the Ministry of Health, the Tzipporah Fried Alzheimer Family Support Center is busy reaching out to hundreds of families and caregivers of dementia patients who are part of the service network, with guidance and support during this incredibly trying time. They are also manning the hotline, fielding incoming phone calls and requests for help.
Babies and toddlers who attend Ezer Mizion’s Judith Pfeuffer Day Care Center network, along with all the children who attend Ezer Mizion’s kindergartens for special needs children, are currently home, in accordance with Min. of Health directives. The teaching and therapy staff is in touch with each family, who are monitoring the children remotely. Each child received a personalized instruction and work program, sent to the homes of countless children, all delivered by volunteers!
The ambulance fleet is flooded with requests and at the ready to provide an optimum response to the many callers. Drivers are of course equipped with appropriate protection.
Medical and rehab equipment loan center services have been intensified to provide a response to the many requests coming in. The Augmentative and Alternative Communication Equipment Loan Center is continuing business as usual, lending out urgently needed communication equipment, counseling for speech and communication issues, and trouble shooting for equipment. Just last week, a device was lent to a young Corona patient….
Ezer Mizion’s Linked to Life volunteer driver division, has embarked on a massive volunteer recruitment campaign. This is to preempt a situation in which there is no one available for an urgent need of delivering stem cell tests, medications, medical and rehab devices, and such. Ezer Mizion has been amazed at the response of volunteers, and thanks to them, the system is working full strength ahead, despite the fact that many volunteers who are currently in isolation.
A special call from Chananya Chollak, Ezer Mizion’s International Chairman, went out to the thousands of Ezer Mizion staff and volunteers: “The mitzvah that is forefront in our minds during this period is “V’nishmartem me’od l’nafshoteichem,” to guard our health. I am certain that each and every one of you is doing the maximum to guard his health and the health of his family, and, at the same time, to stretch out a helping hand to those who are in special distress and need our support. It is our prayer that Hashem should watch over everyone and remove this plague from us and from the entire world.”
Many volunteers responded on the spot to Rabbi Chollak’s heartfelt plea and expressed their readiness to volunteer on behalf of patients, the elderly, populations with special needs and their family members. At Ezer Mizion, we are praying along with the entire Jewish people that G-d should put an end to this pandemic and bring us the complete redemption.
We are now in the midst of a non-routine time, when the Coronavirus is attacking many people in Israel and around the world. On the one hand, at the forefront of our minds is the great mitzvah of “V’nishmartem me’od l’nafshoteichem,” to guard our health, requiring us to do whatever we can to avert spreading and catching the disease, which can lead to endangerment of human life. With every act we do towards this aim, we merit fulfilling the mitzvah of “V’nishmartem.” Continue reading Corona: Message from Rabbi Chananya Chollak, Founder of Ezer Mizion
It’s all hands on deck in the battle of the current world wide war on the coronavirus. Ezer Mizion, known for its International Jewish Bone Marrow Registry, is focusing the energies of all of its numerous departments into dealing with countless crises brought about by the virus. We spoke with Dassy in Israel who is at the epicenter of it all. Continue reading Corona: Speaking from the Field
Always on the lookout for means of fulfilling the needs of vulnerable segments of the population, Ezer Mizion has recently opened a new physical fitness center for men dealing with mental health issues. The center focuses on weight lifting, muscle strengthening, and nutrition training. Its long-term mission is to prepare the client for gainful employment, enabling him to gradually re-enter mainstream society. Continue reading Serving Israel’s Mentally Ill
When we take pictures, we direct the camera outward, to the world around us. We see a path, a flower, a beach, a child. We aim the camera and press the button, capturing the moment in a photo. The photographer compels the viewer to adopt his perspective, the unique manner in which he views the world. The viewer thereby is able to visualize the inner world of the photographer. And the photographer is able to see more clearly the depth of his own mindset in the view he has captured. Continue reading The Camera Captures
Hundreds of rabbis from across the country participated in a “Medicine and Halachah (Jewish Law) ” conference at the Convention Center in Haifa, organized by Maccabi Health Services. Maccabi is committed to provide uncompromising professional and efficient medical service, while adapting its advanced services and making them accessible to the religious public. This is accomplished through an open line of communication, sensitivity to the special needs, and constant consultation with the community’s rabbinic leaders. Maccabi proves, in practice, that ‘medicine according to halachah’ is possible and desirable. This conference created a positive connection between the religious communities and Maccabi. Continue reading Medicine and Jewish Law