It was Bein Hazemanim (vacation) . The offices of Ezer Mizion’s Bone Marrow Registry were churning with commotion. The lives of three hospitalized Jews in desperate need of a bone marrow donation were in the balance.
Three separate cases, three hospitals, three families desperate to find a matching donor. Three lives on the line.
The staff at the Registry works at full steam. The computer brings up the names of potential donors whose tissue typing (HLA) test show that they have the best match. Next step: to locate them. Go find yeshiva students during Bein Hazemanim.
They call the parents for the first clue in what has begun to appear like a treasure hunt with the prize being life itself for three people. In the course of the next day, one of them was located in Tzefat and the second — in Netanya. The thirdwas reached only in the afternoon, after his morning learning session in Yeshivat Bein Hazemanim. One after the other, they were gathered at a speed that would put the elite units of the army to shame. Plans for the long-awaited bein hazamanim were dropped like inconsequential post-it notes. Ezer Mizion’s Linked to Life volunteers spread out across the country and rallied to the cause, transporting the boys’ blood samples at record-breaking speed for a final test. The scores were high for each one. It’s a go! At Ezer Mizion, the staff heaved sighs of relief.
We invited the three, students from the cream of the crop of the Yeshiva world, for a heart-to-heart talk, in which they describe the process, and express their joy at the opportunity they were given from Heaven via Ezer Mizion to save a life. Yitzchak from Slobodka, , Meir from Beis Matisyahu, and Benzion from Nesivos Hachochmah – Wolfson.
Did you know what a bone marrow donation is? Did you understand the significance of your deed?
Benzie replies: “I didn’t know, and it didn’t really make a difference to me. When they asked us to join the registry, it amazed me how a small swab can save a life. We are used to donations meaning spending money, but here, they were talking about something else: Part of you is going to pulse inside the body of someone else. I think that you really don’t grasp it until you do it, and even then, it’s not totally understandable…”
In contrast, Meir actually was familiar with the concept from up close: “We had someone in the family who got sick and needed a transplant. So I saw firsthand the difficulty of the illness and, correspondingly, the hatzalah (saving) of transplant. I felt it was a privilege for me to close the circle and donate in gratitude for my relative having been saved.
The one who is somewhere between both of them is Yitzchak, who was familiar —but explains that there is “familiar” and there is “familiar.” “In a building near my family lives a family whose little daughter got leukemia and was in mortal danger. After months of hospitalization and suffering, months of almost daily danger to life, they found her a matching donor — and the girl got back on her feet. Since then, she is healthy, active and glowing. When they asked us in yeshiva to give samples, I saw that little girl in my mind’s eye, and it was clear to me that I’d join. In spite of that, I think that until you actually do it, you don’t really understand its significance.” To be continued.