“Absolutely not!” he said. Again and again. Each time the subject was brought up. “No! A thousand percent NO, NO, NO!”
That’s my son. Stubborn as they come. I can’t say I blame him. After all, he’s a teenager and just wants to be like everyone else. He went through a lot, that son of mine. For a while it was touch and go and, at his age, there was no way to hide the situation from him. That’s a pretty scary package for a young boy of eleven to handle. Now he just wanted to be normal. Like his friends. He didn’t want anyone to google his name and suddenly be confronted with a bald replica of his younger self. He wanted to erase that nightmare from his history. Click ‘delete’ and it never happened. A meeting with his donor? Absolutely not! And there’d be cameras. He’d make it on the internet. There for everyone to see. There for him to see. A massive to-do in technicolor, highlighting what he would only want to expunge from his psyche. And so the answer was NO!
A stem cell transplant had been his last chance to survive and, for a long time, there was no matching donor on the horizon. It was only through Ezer Mizion that a DNA match was finally found. As parents, we wanted the opportunity to say thank you to this amazing person who gave his all to help someone he didn’t even know.
She is only eight years old. Her parent try to smile when she talks of what she wants to be when she grows up. But it’s so hard. You see, Miri is not well and only a bone marrow transplant can save her life. To be successful, a genetically matching donor must be found. With the transplant, Miri will someday become a Mommy. Her children will, in turn, mature and produce grandchildren for Miri – generations…eternity. But without the transplant, …
Ezer Mizion, the largest Jewish registry worldwide has saved the lives of so many cancer patients around the globe. A drive was recently held in NY and NJ where thousands made their way, in the rain, in the cold, to the Ezer Mizion stations in order to ‘Swab for Miri’. As the drive progressed, Ezer Mizion received requests from more precious members of the Jewish nation – two in Flatbush, two in Lakewood, one in Buffalo – who were desperately waiting in hope and prayer for the genetic match that will mean Life.
Jews rallied. Busy mothers maneuvering the crowds with double strollers. Fathers trekking to the stations late at night after Evening Prayers. In twos and in threes. Another and another and another. Thousands! Closing time came and went, virtually ignored. How could we close when more people, so very tired after a long day, were detouring away from a relaxing cup of coffee in a warm home? Instead they were heading toward the still bustling stations to save the life of another!
A woman arrived with two babies in tow. “I never go anywhere,” she told us. “No weddings, no shopping. Nothing. I have a cancer patient at home. I don’t even have the time for basic housework. But for this? To help save a life? For this I just had to come!” “Yes!” we thought to ourselves. “You really understand. The pain. The fear. That tiny glimmer of hope that, at times, seems all but extinguished. A dying spark until Ezer Mizion arrives to fan it into a flame of faith.
Founded in 1998, Ezer Mizion’s International Bone Marrow Registry, is the largest Jewish registry worldwide and has saved the lives of 4,293 patients whose sole chance of survival had been a transplant. Three hundred and ninety-four lives were saved in 2021 alone, more than one per day! Several years ago, Ezer Mizion opened its Stem Cell Harvesting Center, one of the first centers in the world to operate outside a hospital. A full medical staff operates at the Center, including a doctor, nurses, medical technicians, and a Clinic Director, operating according to the strict guidelines and regulations of World Marrow Donors Association (WMDA), which guarantee the quality of the stem cells and ensure the highest standards of performance.
The Registry now numbers 1,130,526 potential donors ready and anxious to donate their stem cells to save a life. It is our fervent prayer that among the many new swabs taken, some will emerge to be perfect match for each of these Yidden and all those around the globe for whom a transplant will mean a Future.
To view heartwarming video of transplants entitled Nothing in Your Life: www.ezermizion.org
There he was, speaking with enthusiasm, with confidence in front of several hundred people. A newly minted adult Jew in his pristine Bar Mitzvah clothing, chosen with such care for this very special occasion. Flanked by his father and grandfather, he was too involved to notice the tears in their eyes as they remembered. Scenes from his babyhood flashed through their minds and enhanced the significance of this momentous evening a thousand fold. His father thought of the day he was born when he first heard the shouts, “It’s a boy! It’s a boy!” His joy was boundless. Avichai’s grandfather recalled how he would stop by the house every day on his way to work just to see Avichai. “He’s my pal. He makes my day!” And they recalled the day their world fell apart. When their precious Avichai was diagnosed with leukemia. The baby’s uncle was Dr. Jerry Stein, the director of the Bone Marrow Unit at Schneiders, a major hospital in Israel. His professional knowledge did not allow for any rosy dreams. He knew that 50% of these patients die. “My heart fell out of my chest when I heard the news!”
Will a stem cell transplant donor be found?
The only hope was Ezer Mizion’s International Bone Marrow Registry, the largest Jewish registry worldwide. A stem cell transplant was needed to save this young life. Genetic matching between donor and recipient is vital for success. A search was performed. The computer raced through hundreds of thousands of names. The staff held their collective breath. The family sat glued to the phone immersed in the timeless words of Tehillim (Psalms). Would the response be the ominous words: No Match Found, a virtual death sentence? Or would there miraculously be a genetic match? From the millions of Jews that inhabit the earth, would there exist a near perfect DNA match? Would he be among those registered in the Registry? A click, a bing. A sound barely heard in the busy office. The computer had stopped at a file. His name was Ziv. His parents had named him Ziv which means light, because he had brought light into their world. And now he was about to do the same for Avichai’s family.
“Would you be willing to donate to save a little boy’s life?” he was asked. The question hardly made any sense to him. “What is the question? Of course, I would donate.”
A year later, the two families met. The little boy, now a healthy, mischievous two-year-old, handed Ziv a present, a Chanukah menorah, a candelabrum of light, and gave his new friend a hug. The atmosphere was electric with unspoken words. Avichai would live!
His family rubbed their eyes. The audience of hundreds were listening intently. Many knew his story. Was this a dream? No, it is real. Avichai has become a man. A Bar Mitzvah bochur (young man). He would grow and mature. He would marry and raise a family who would, in turn, raise their own families… generations…eternity.