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.
Two adorable twins. Too young to understand numbers and question why the ‘two’ doesn’t match their actual age. When they mature perhaps Mommy will explain that this was a party celebrating another birthday. It had been two years since Yarden. had received her life-saving bone marrow transplant. No family member was a genetic match and her parents had been forced to look elsewhere, somewhere, around the globe, for someone whose DNA matched their precious child. We cannot imagine the tension, the fear, the prayers that filled their home until one morning, the phone rang. “I’m calling from Ezer Mizion Bone Marrow Registry. I have wonderful news…” Life hasn’t been easy for the twins. They were born together but have been apart for so much of their life what with Yarden in and out of hospitals. May they now spend the rest of their lives together, enjoying each other’s company in perfect health.
“What is Ezer Mizion? Is it the Jewish Bone Marrow Registry?”
“I think it’s an organization that helps cancer patients. When my sister lived in Israel, her son was in the hospital off and on for months with leukemia. Ezer Mizion couldn’t do enough for the family. Meals at the hospital, rides, a beautiful apartment for the family to live so they wouldn’t have to travel for treatments. And let me tell you, that apartment was housed in a gan eden (garden of eden) for kids with everything a child could want including a petting zoo. You know, they even took all the kids on a chol hamoed trip
“I always thought Ezer Mizion was an organization for special children. When my cousin moved to Israel , she was so excited to see all the programs available for her autistic child.”
“A few years ago, we were visiting Israel and I noticed they were having an inauguration of a mental health building. So many g’dolim (sages) came. Isn’t it an organization for mental health?”
BONE MARROW DONOR REGISTRY ACTIVITY SUMMARY
In July 2020: 30 transplants, 25 of these from donor pools 3,664 total transplants 1,883 new members this month 1,036,689 total members in registry Continue reading Because of You!
Lieutenant T. just received his Pilot Wings and yes, he is quite proud. At the young age of 23, he has accomplished even much more. Lieutenant T. has saved a life. During the course, he was called out by the Division Officer. “Did I do something wrong?” His mind was in a turmoil with all sorts of negative scenarios running through his head until the officer smiled at him saying, “Ezer Mizion would like to speak with you. It seems that you are a possible genetic match for a leukemia patient.”
“What an about face! Suddenly I was a potential hero!”
“It turned out I was a great match for a lady with cancer. I checked it out with my parents. After all, it was a big step. They were 100% on board and excited that I had been given this opportunity. And so the light turned green and it was all systems go. I took off a few days to have the injections that they give you to increase the stem cells in your blood. And then came the big day. Perfectly comfortable with reading material and visitors, to occupy me as blood was removed via one arm, stem cells separated and blood then returned to me via the other arm. It took several hours but was painless and I felt fine. It is definitely a great privilege to take part in such a process.
Anyone who is contemplating donating should know that it’s simple. Nothing to worry about. Within a day or so, you’ll be back at work and soon will have forgotten all about it. But I can tell you from experience that on the other side, no one is forgetting anything. They’re ecstatic with joy as your stem cells seep into your patient’s bloodstream. And they never forget. Not days later, not weeks later, not even years later.
About a year after the transplant, when it was legal to do so, I received a letter from a lady in America. She introduced herself as the one who received my stem cells. She said she is in her fifties and has three kids. She had had leukemia and needed that transplant to stay alive. I couldn’t believe what I had accomplished! Just minimal discomfort on my side but for Nancy. I had given her back her life.
She invited me to come visit her in the US and I invited her to visit me in Israel. So far, neither has happened but we both hope someday… Meanwhile, we’re getting to know each other via email. My message today is unequivocal: Give! Donate! There are so many still waiting in line. Subsidizing the cost of the genetic testing or getting tested yourself or both. It’s such an infinitesimal effort, compared to what you are granting them.
April 2020 – BONE MARROW DOCTOR REGISTRY ACTIVITY SUMMARY
Just like the rest of the world, Corona has affected the field of stem cell transplants. We are grateful to share with you this past month’s achievements. Continue reading Because of You!