I Love Her with All My Heart

A stem cell transplant saved my life! L-R Debra and Zohar

I hadn’t been feeling well and decided that a visit to my doctor was the right thing to do. Picking up the blood results was just one of the things on my long list of Things To Do that day. It would be a long, long time till I could get back to that list.

There I sat in the chair opposite him as he perused the first page of the blood work. “Hmmm. Looks ok….” Then he turned the page. His face changed color. His muscles tensed. “I can’t understand how you are sitting here in front of me! You belong in a hospital!” he fairly shouted. An ambulance was called. My list was forgotten and I found myself on a hospital bed receiving an emergency blood transfusion.

And that was just the beginning. Next in line, in our battle against the monster named Cancer, was chemotherapy. My body had been weakened and there were some very scary moments there. My husband was terrified, my mother devastated. “For them! For them I have to get better! I just have to!” I cried inside myself.

The words of a highly insensitive nurse were not encouraging, to say the least: “I hope you have all your business affairs in order.”

“Why is she saying that to me?” I screamed in silence. “I’m not going anywhere!” 

Soon we were down to playing our last card. I was told that a stem cell transplant was my last chance to survive. Unlike medication, a transplant cannot be procured at the pharmacy. It must come from a genetically matching donor. And at that time, there was none…

But there was hope. The registries were searching. Perhaps soon one will be found. Before it’s too late. 

And then came the day that will live forever in my heart. The phone rang. I could hear the bubbling joy in the voice of the caller. A tiny flutter of hope began to well up within me. “I’m calling from Ezer Mizion Bone Marrow Registry. We found a match!”

Tears of joy streamed down my face. A match! Life! Who is this angel who is willing to do this for a stranger she has never met?!

Due to legalities, I had to wait at least a year to meet Zohar. The angel who gave me another chance at life. I lived in Florida and she lived in Israel and so we got to know each other via email. When she finished her stint in the Israeli army, she took a job as a guide in a zoo introducing children and adults to the wonders of the animal world. It was In Israel that she received the call from Ezer Mizion notifying her that she was the only one in the world that could save a life. My life. 

“Wow! This was the most exciting news I ever received. My cousin had gone through a bout with cancer. This was my chance to pay it back and save another person,” Zohar relives the moment of that exhilarating call.  

Then began the next phase of her life: moving to New Jersey and, shortly afterwards, marriage. New Jersey is closer than Israel to Florida but not close enough to actually meet. It wasn’t until a major Ezer Mizion event, the Fireworks concert of 2022, that the two met onstage in front of thousands of people. There were tears. There were hugs. And the walls of the theater trembled with emotion. “I love her with all my heart,” cries Debra.

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Because You Cared

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BECAUSE OF YOU!

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An Eishel for Avinoam

It happened four years ago, at the end of a routine workday. Avinoam Laufer, 40, was headed homeward in Petach Tikvah. On the way, he felt acute pains in his head. He stopped his car and understood that he was experiencing a stroke. He managed to summon an ambulance and inform his wife before losing consciousness. The doctors explained to the frantic family that there was no choice but to do surgery to insert a drain, so as to stop the bleeding in his brain. Avinoam never woke up from the surgery. For 17 days he lay in a coma. When the doctors established that he was in a state of brain death, his family was called in to part with him.

Eishel: Giving to those in need

“Avinoam lived a life for the Jewish people,” his wife describes.  The connection with Ezer Mizion was formed yet in his lifetime, through a project he started with a group of friends, in which, every Shabbat, families would host people who were stuck in the Schneider and Beilinson Hospitals on Shabbat, providing them with sleeping accommodations and meals. In time, the project was named for him: “Eshel Avinoam.” Eishel refers to the tree near the home of Avrohom Avinu (the Jewish forefather) who planted the tree for the benefit of his many guests. The Hebrew word “eshel” – comprised of the letters aleph-shin-lamed — stands for achilah (food), shtiyah (drink), and linah (sleeping accommodations)which were provided both by the tree and in his tent. Using the same initials, the word also stands for Avinoam Shalom Laufer.

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Because of You!

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Connecting the Dots

Remember doing Connect the Dots when you were a kid? If you did it correctly, you were rewarded with a picture. As adults, we sometimes are also called on to connect the dots but the reward is so much greater. Sometime it can be saving a life!

To Israel
From Germany
  • Here we are at #1, the starting point: a hospital in Israel. We have a cancer patient whose only chance to survive is a stem cell transplant.  He needs stem cells from a donor whose DNA matches his. Very hard to find but we think we have one. We just have to do some further testing.  Problem. The lab is in Petach Tikvah, Israel. The donor is in Germany. Give up? Of course not! With caring contacts everywhere, Ezer Mizion began to ‘follow the numbers’.
  • 2. We asked Yossi Beinhacker, VP of the Rabbinical Center of Europe if he has any contact in Germany who would be willing to help.
  • 3. Lord Shmuel Aharon Brodman, rabbi of a community in Munich was his choice
  • 4. Lord Shmuel Aharon Brodman put us in touch with Dr. Brown who was happy to draw blood
  • 5. Ezer Mizion immense Linked to Life (a whatsapp network) was alerted to find a volunteer to take the test tubes from Germany to Israel
  • 6. Gadi Cohen answered the call. He will be traveling from Germany to Tel Aviv and will be thrilled to take the test tubes with him but he will not be anywhere near Petach Tikva where they are needed.
  • 7. Second volunteer will be traveling from Tel Aviv to Petach Tikvah. Picture completed! Another Ezer Mizion success story.

More than one life per day is saved by the Ezer Mizion Bone Marrow Registry. Many of these are young parents battling cancer who had been terrified at leaving their children to grow up as orphans. Others are small children who will now mature and raise families of their own. Genetic testing is expensive and it is your generosity that has enabled Ezer Mizion to facilitate stem cell transplants, thus saving so many lives around the globe.

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Because of You!

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Absolutely Not!

Another success story at Ezer Mizion International Bone Marrow Registry

“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.

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