The scene takes place at one of the yeshivos in New York.

One of our many heroes donating stem cells

He’s on his way home. It was a great seder (Torah study session). He and his chavrusah )study partner) finally worked out the Rashbam (a Torah commentary). Now he is more than ready for a delicious supper. Maybe spicy chicken with rice…he is almost out the door when he notices a crowd. “Oh, right,” he recalls. “I remember seeing signs about swabbing and joining the Ezer Mizion Jewish Bone Marrow Registry. Everyone else seems to be there. Supper can wait a few minutes.”

In less than five minutes, he had filled out a quick form, swabbed the inside of his cheeks with a Q-tip and was on his way.  Back to regular routine… Until the phone call. The first one arrived during seder and he didn’t pick up. Then a second and a third. Finally one arrived bein hasdarim (during break).

Stem cell being donated to save a life

“I’m calling from Ezer Mizion. Is this Moshe Cohen*?”

A very tentative yes…

“I’m calling to notify you that you are a genetic match for a cancer patient, in fact the only known match in the entire world. You can save a Jewish life! Is it ok if we send someone down to draw blood so we can do the final testing?”

Stunned silence…

“Mr. Cohen*, are you able to hear me?” 

“Yes, I hear you but, but, I mean, I mean what does it involve?”

“Right now just a blood draw for further testing. If the results will be what we hope for, then we will invite you and a companion to come to Eretz Yisroel,   all expenses paid by the organization, for the transplant.  It’s a very simple procedure, not much more than giving blood. You’ll have time for touring and in a few days you’ll be traveling back to America with the knowledge that you have saved the life . Legally we cannot give out any information until a year has passed but that person can be a Zeidy (grandfather) who wants to dance at the chasunas (weddings) of his aineklach (grandchildren), maybe a young mother who is terrified at leaving her kindelach (children) to grow up as yesomim (orphans) or maybe a little child who will now grow up and raise a family of his own.”

Life-saving stem cells soon to be transplanted into cancer patient

His heart begins to race. What an opportunity! How many people   have a chance to save a life! Perhaps he is frum (religious) and I’ll have a share in every mitzvah that person performs for the rest of his life!

“Of course I’ll do it!” he almost shouts into the phone. “Give them my cell number and I’ll make an appointment for the blood draw as soon as possible.”

A quick stop before supper a few weeks ago to fill out a form. And there he was. About to save a life. Thousands have recently been tested throughout yeshivos and other venues throughout Brooklyn, Upstate NY and NJ . And two have already been found to be a match. All of the new registrants will remain on the database for decades, ready and waiting to receive that electrifying phone call: You can save a life!