One year. Two lives. Two members of the same family each saved a life by donating stem cells. Now they are waiting for their younger sister to be called to complete the circle.
Yael (23) was the first to donate. She was told that a man with leukemia needs a stem cell transplant transplant. “It’s his only chance to survive and I am the only one in the world who can donate since I am a genetic match to him. Can you imagine how that made me feel?! What an opportunity! Most people can go through a lifetime without having such an opportunity. I was thrilled.
“Talya from Ezer Mizion walked me through the process and took care of every detail. Then came the day I was dreaming about – the day my cells would become part of a stranger whom I didn’t know but already felt close to. One day, completely unexpectedly – I was vacationing – Adi from Ezer Mizion sent me a letter from the recipient. There are no words to describe how I felt. It all became so much more real. ”
Yael’s recipient is Eyal Gabai, 57, an Israeli living in New York, married and father of three. “To my great good fortune, at Ezer Mizion — whose holy work is indescribable — they found a young donor who was a precise match. In November – a little over one ago – the long-awaited bag with the stem cells she donated arrived. After a few minutes of transfusion, I was given new life.
“Now, a year later, I am still free of cancer, and the future looks rosy. At the end of the year, the people at Ezer Mizion put us in contact and in an emotional conversation between us, it emerged that we’d both grown up in the same Jerusalem neighborhood.” “In different times, of course.” Yael adds: “The bond between us is forever. I am part of his life and he is part of mine for always.”
Yael’s family thought they had completed their quota of excitement for the year but shortly afterwards, Yael’s older brother, Roi (24), a computer science student, received a call from Ezer Mizion. Talya escorted me through the stem cell transplant process , just like she had escorted my sister earlier. She helped me feel really comfortable all the way. At this rate, our younger sister should also be donating next year…
“Legally, I have to wait a year to meet the recipient. I pray that all goes well and we can enjoy the same relationship as Yael has with Eyal.”
Ezer Mizion’s International Bone Marrow Donor Registry was established in 1998. Its goal is to help cancer patients and patients with other serious diseases find a matching stem cell donor. Since its establishment, about 1,070000 potential stem cell donors have joined its ranks. The Registry is the fifth largest in the world of its kind and, every year, thousands of search requests come in from transplant centers throughout the world to locate donors for their patients. To date, more than 3,900 lifesaving transplants have been carried out, in Israel and in many countries in the world thanks to Ezer Mizion.