At his bris (circumcision), they named him Imri. He was blessed that his parents merit bringing him to the chupah (wedding canopy), a simple, often –taken-for-granted blessing. At the time, it seemed simple. Now they are not so sure. In fact, they are not certain that his mother will enjoy the deep satisfaction of bringing her little boy even to first grade. You see, two-year-old Imri was diagnosed at two months with DBA, a rare disease which does not allow him to manufacture blood cells. He has no clotting system or immune system. When his mother brought him to the ER, the nurse immediately snatched him away and rushed him to the trauma unit. His hemoglobin was 2.5, the level of someone who has passed away. In addition, he has recently developed MDS, a rare blood disease for children which often develops into leukemia. The unfathomable has become all too real for this family. Imri Chai may not live past toddlerhood.
His only chance to survive is a bone marrow transplant. To be successful, the donor must be a good genetic match. Ezer Mizion is the largest Jewish registry in the world but even the largest is not large enough. From the close to a million potential donors, not one is a match. Other registries have been checked. Results: negative. And so what does one do? Give up? Allow a precious child – and his future children, grandchildren – to be lost?
We, all of us, will keep on trying. We will test more people who are of the specific descent of his parents and likely to be a match. We’ll keep testing. We’ll keep trying. Because we know that every life is precious. Precious to the Jewish nation. Precious to Hashem (G-d).
Genetic matching is based on ethnicity. That is why Jews will match other Jews. Jews of specific ancestry are more likely to match those of similar ancestry. If you are of East Turkey, Azerbaijan, Iraq, Armenia, or Georgian descent, between the ages of 18 and 45 and never registered in ANY registry, please email firstname.lastname@example.org to receive a free testing kit or call 718 853 8400.
If your family is from other areas of the globe, you can help by sponsoring the tests. A $50 donation will cover the cost of one test. Donations can be made online at saveimri.com, with a credit card by calling 718 853 8400 or by sending a check to Ezer Mizion, 5225 New Utrecht Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11219. Every potential donor tested for Imri will also remain on the database for decades, available to save the life of cancer patients around the world.
We cannot imagine the anguish of Imri’s parents as they wait in hope and prayer for the phone to ring. It will sound like an ordinary ring but the message will mean life, a future, for their dearly loved son.