Matan and Yifat Become Blood Brothers

Yisrael Hayom
Oct. 11, 2017
By: Meital Yasur Bet-Ohr, Health reporter

A moving meeting took place last week between Matan Reiser (12), a leukemia patient, and Yifat Krieger (24) who donated her stem cells to him and saved his life.

Matan was diagnosed with leukemia and needed a stem cell transplant in order to beat the illness. In a rare incident, two matching donors were found for him: Yifat Krieger and her brother Doron, who had both joined Ezer Mizion’s International Bone Marrow Donor Registry earlier. In the end, Yifat donated stem cells and saved Matan’s life. Last week, she met him and his family for the first time.

When Matan Reiser was 10 years old, he was diagnosed with leukemia. A few months later, the doctors discovered that he also had a blood disease known as MDS, which damages the bone marrow. Because of the rarity of the disease, the doctors made it clear that only a stem cell transplant could save him and prevent his condition from deteriorating.

“Matan was diagnosed with his illness a little more than two years ago,” his mother relates. “At first the disease was dormant, but since the doctors also identified damage to the bone marrow, an urgent donation was needed. It was a very tough time, with a lot of uncertainty.”

To Matan’s good fortune, within a short time, two matching donors were found: Yifat Krieger (24) and her brother Doron (26). At the International Bone Marrow Donor Registry, they ended up choosing Yifat, and a little more than a year ago, she donated stem cells to Matan.

“When they said I’d been found to be a match, I was insane with excitement.” Last week, Matan met Krieger for the first time, in a moving encounter that took place at Oranit, Ezer Mizion’s support center for cancer patients. Matan has recovered and stopped having treatments.

“I feel terrific,” he says. Matan, a sixth-grader, was very excited to meet Yifat. “She’s like my sister, because we have the same blood.” The boy’s mother added that “Yifat is amazing. We fell in love with her.” According to Yifat, “The meeting made the donation so much more real, because I saw the face behind the donation.” Yifat is due to have her oldest son in another month. “We will remain in contact, and a month from now, they’ll come join us at my son’s brit.”

Matan is one of 2,606 people whose lives were saved, thanks to the International Registry. In September, 37 transplants took place, thanks to the Registry. That’s a record-breaking number of transplants in a single month. The notable statistic was recorded just when the annual campaign to recruit donations for the Registry was in full swing. The Registry, which was established about twenty years ago, today includes 872,375 potential donors.

Dr. Bracha Zisser, Director of the Registry: “I am proud and excited with each life that is saved. Every $50 donation adds another lifesaving sample to the Bone Marrow Registry.”