Some people my age are still kids but I was forced to grow up fast. It hasn’t been an easy life. Until fourteen, I was like everyone else. You know. Playing ball, studying for tests, doing pretty well in school except for math. I had a lot of friends and life was great. Until it wasn’t. Until I found myself alone in the hospital. My friends weren’t allowed to visit and even if they had been, they were probably too scared. I know I would have been if it had been someone else lying there attached to tubes and sick with a disease that people didn’t even like to mention. I got chemo treatment. I couldn’t even dream of a ballgame. Every time I pictured the ball flying through the air, I got more nauseous and had to grab that basin fast. But the chemo did the trick, at least for a while. And the cancer seemed to disappear. Then at nineteen, the monster was back again. This time there were no triumphant handshakes from the medical staff. No banter like “We never want to see you here again.” This time, they weren’t sure. I got a bone marrow transplant, the kind where they use your own cells. It was grueling and the ‘maybe it will work, maybe it won’t’ I was hearing was no comfort.
A young man sits in a chair for hours. He is attached to a machine that is filtering stem cells from his blood. It’s a comfortable chair and his every need is met. But there is a yearning within him that cannot be satisfied. Soon a little bag of his stem cells will be brought to a different floor where someone is waiting. He has never met that someone. He knows no more than the gender and age of the someone but he feels a deep connection. He knows the someone is feeling tremendous tension at this moment and he longs to reassure him and tell him that it is going fine and he will soon be receiving that little bag of life. He so much would want to be there at that moment when the bag arrives and life – his life – is transplanted into the someone. He wants to hold hands during the moments when they will be becoming blood brothers.
But he can’t. It’s not allowed. Something about international law. They will not be allowed to meet for at least a year. His yearning is strong. It must be satisfied at last partially. So he does the next best thing. He communicates. He writes a note.
How are you?
I’m A., from the bone marrow donation.
I thought that perhaps I’d tell you a little bit about myself, so we could begin to get acquainted with each other — only if you want to, of course.
I’m 24, married to R. and waiting, at this very time, for our first birth, G-d willing. I am studying at Yeshivat Ohr Etzion and my wife is a ninth grade homeroom teacher at the Ulpanah.
I served in the army in the paratroopers’ unit. It was in the army that what brought us together took place — the donation.
Let me tell you a bit of how it was on my part.
One Sunday, I got a call from Ezer Mizion, asking me to get back to them. Already then, I started getting excited: Maybe I was lucky enough to have been found to be a match for a donation?
Indeed, they informed me on the phone that an initial match was found between us for a donation. I felt as if I’d won the lottery, and even more; it was such a great privilege.
Of course, I did the entire process, which you probably are more familiar with than I am, and the whole thing is going smoothly and easily.
Wishing you robust health and much happiness!
There are many donations taking place in Ezer Mizion’s new state of the art Harvesting Center. Next door another note is being written.
I am sure that you have gone through tough things. First of all, I want you to know that you are a real hero! To fight this cursed illness and not to give up is not something that is self-understood.
I hope that the stem cell transplant will help you carry on an easy, free, and normal life. I hope that you recover as fast as possible and that you will be able to return to your family, children, and grandchildren (if you have any).
May you know only happiness, good health, joy, success, and, most important, optimism. Enjoy life and utilize it well, because who knows better than you do that we only have one life to live.
I hope that, one day, I’ll be able to meet you and get to know you.
With great love to you whom I have never met but already feel to be a brother ,
You don’t know me and I don’t know you, but that is what makes everything so much more amazing.
Some time ago, I received the most thrilling phone call, informing me that I was found to be a match for a stem cell donation to someone who needed my cells to live. I was beyond words, in the clouds.
Two years ago, I had received a similar call to save the life of a 23 year old man. But unfortunately, the patient weakened and he was in no condition to undergo the transplant. I had been devastated. “This cannot be!” I thought to myself.
To my great joy, I received another call and this time it was about you. Today, I had the opportunity to donate my stem cells to you. For this privilege, I am forever grateful!!!
Throughout this process, I didn’t stop thinking about you for a moment.
I thought all the time: How are you feeling? Are you happy that a matching donor was found for you? Are you optimistic, in spite of the great difficulty involved in such a daunting challenge?
When, occasionally, there was pain or fears at some stage of the process, I immediately thought of you and instantly knew that I had no right to complain, when it was you who are fighting for your life. It had been insanely important to me, and I stubbornly had insisted that they pass on to you and your family that you should not be worried about the donation; I was willing to donate, no matter what would be involved.
To everyone involved, I want to send you tons of “likes” for the ability to accept and deal with this, each in his own way, and to embrace me with a big hug from afar.
I intentionally chose to write to you by hand, so that you could become familiar with at least one personal aspect of me in this long and discreet process.
I pray and hope that my stem cells will be absorbed in your body in the best possible way and that, with G-d’s help, you should recover and regain your strength so that you will once more stand on your own two feet, raise your head, and, above all, be proud of yourself for emerging victorious, in a big way.
Your anonymous donor
The letter writer is just one of over three thousand caring Jews who cannot believe their good fortune to have been chosen to save a life. In a year or two, donor and patient will be permitted to meet. Can you imagine the joy as they embrace…brothers in blood, their souls entwined!
There are close to a million potential donors in Ezer Mizion’s International Bone Marrow Registry, the largest Jewish registry in the world. But even the largest is not large enough. Our goal is to expand so that virtually every request is met with the exhilarating words: Yes! We have a match!
My name is Annalisa T. I am writing from Italy to thank with all my heart the Israeli donor who will try to save the life of my husband Mr Luca B: he will receive a bone marrow transplant between the end of April and the beginning of May at the hospital of Santa Chiara in Pisa, Italy. He is fighting, since May 2017, against a LLA (Leukemia). Continue reading A Thank You Note from Italy
My name is Annalisa T. I am writing from Italy to thank with all my heart the Israeli DONOR who will try to save the life of my husbandMr Luca B: he will receive a bone marrow transplant between the end of April and the beginning of May at the hospital of SANTA CHIARA in PISA (Italy). He is fighting, since May 2017, against a LLA (LEUKEMIA).
Could you help me, please, to get in touch with this beautiful person? We don’t know the name, but we only know that he/she is in Israel. I really would like to talk or hug him/her. Possibly inviting him/her to come and visit us in Italy.
If it is not possible, please, forward this email to him or her.
I would be very grateful to you in this desperate research.
Thank you with all my heart and all my love from Italy to you and Israel,
It was his birthday but he wasn’t there. He would have turned 63 and his family and friends would have gathered together to show him how much they loved him. But instead, a different kind of celebration was held. The Gil Marks Donor Pool was launched at a small ceremony in the presence of Gil’s 89 year old active, perky mother, his brother-in-law, his devoted nephews and nieces and some greats from the fourth generation. For his mother, especially, his birthday was one of the hardest days but made much easier by the knowledge that, in spite of the fact that he never married, the bone marrow donor pool created in his memory will be an everlasting legacy. It will save the lives of so many others –many of them children who will mature and produce the offspring that Gil never had.
Several months ago, Gil A’H lost the battle to cancer. A bone marrow transplant, often the remedy for many types of cancer, was not an option in Gil’s case. Continue reading He Wasn’t There
In their pleasant, well-kept home in Har Yonah, parents Tova and Moshe Ben Simone look reverently at their youngest son David, a handsome soldier who, without a moment’s hesitation, donated stem cells to save a life. “I look forward to the day when I can meet the person whose life I saved,” says David. Continue reading The Happiest Guy!
Sept. 21, 2014
Where do I start? For a full year, the sentences have been running through our minds – what to say when we meet and what to write so as to make it perfectly clear that we feel we owe you the life of our dearest loved one.
They say that “One who saves a single Jewish life, it is as if he saved an entire world.” Who can vouch for the truth of this statement more than we can? With your bone marrow donation, you saved our son, and in doing so, saved us as well – an entire family.
As parents, there is nothing more painful than knowing your child’s life is in danger, while you, the parents who brought him into the world, are helpless to save him. Continue reading Back to Life – Thanks to You
Dear very special person,
First of all, we want to wish you a happy, good New Year and apologize that we did not write earlier. We did not know that we were allowed to write to you before a year had elapsed from the day of the transplant. This leukemia caught us in the middle of life, with a newborn baby and a little boy who asks lots of questions. Both of them need their Abba with them. Continue reading They Both Need their Abba