Mike E. was three and a half. The age of zoom-zooming his trucks across the floor. But Mike wasn’t zoom-zooming. The most frequent sound he emitted was a pitiful whimper as, once again, he was subjected to the painful and frightening hospital procedures. Mike was born with CGD, a disease that damages the immune system. His life was in danger and only a stem cell transplant could help. Finding a donor whose DNA matched Mike’s was vital. With a matching donor, he could live. Without… Continue reading Opportunity Knocked and They Answered
This was number five. We were experienced. My husband had the bris (circumcision) details taken care of within 24 hours of the birth while I lay in my hospital bed dreaming of his first day of school, his first two-wheeler… We did not know yet what the doctors already suspected. That he is not expected to live long enough to ride a two-wheeler.
Preparing to feed him on his very first day of life, I noticed a rash on his head and groin. I assumed it was nothing but thought I would point it out to the nurse on duty.
It wasn’t nothing. It was a big something. By the time he was five months, we had learned that the ‘something’ had a name: Wiscott-Aldrich – a hereditary disorder that attacks one out of every million children and affects platelets and immune system cells. The average life expectancy was no more than five years. Unless…we held tight to our chairs. There was an ‘unless’, a ‘maybe’, perhaps some hope in this black, black nightmare we found ourselves in. Continue reading Like Magnet to Metal
$50…it can buy a lunch for two… a nice shirt…a tank of gas…or a child’s life. Yes. For fifty dollars, a tiny toddler with cancer can be genetically matched to a bone marrow donor and his life will be saved.
For many cancer patients, a bone marrow transplant is their sole chance of survival. To be successful, both donor and recipient must share the same DNA. Ezer Mizion, the largest Jewish Bone Marrow Registry in the world, has saved over 2500 lives of people around the world but too many are still waiting for the match that will mean life itself.
Parents of tiny toddlers, whose mischievous giggles have long given way to a pathetic whimper, sit for hours in the pediatric oncology ward. Teenagers refrain from joining their peers who are planning their futures since, for them, there may not be a future. Young mothers and fathers clutch their kids tightly, praying so hard that these precious children will not have to grow up as orphans.
Even the largest registry is not large enough. Your gift of $50 will help expand the registry. And then the phone at the home of one of these families may ring and a triumphant voice will announce: Yes! We have a match!
It’s been said many times. Help others when you can. It’s a chessed. It’s the right thing to do. And, in addition, you never know when you may be on the other side of the fence. Batya is proof of this. About fifteen years ago, her daughter’s kidney issues that she had suffered with since the age of twelve reached a new low and only a kidney transplant could save her. Batya and her son were both good matches but Batya insisted that she be the one to donate. Her son has his whole life ahead of him. Should anything go wrong, she felt she could never forgive herself. Shortly after the transplant, her daughter gave birth to the first of two adorable grandchildren for Batya to cuddle and spoil. Imagine, a few days of discomfort and Batya earned grandchildren, great-grandchildren…eternity.
All was wonderful in her world until fifteen years later when Batya found herself on the other side of the fence. Continue reading What Goes Around, Comes Around
At 61, Betzalel N. was just beginning grandfatherhood. He had three children and several tiny grandchildren. His drawer was filled with lollipops and his mind was filled with future plans: trips to the zoo with Grandpa, graduations, dancing at their weddings…until the day it all came crashing down. Leukemia. There would be no holding the hand of a grandchild as she gingerly feeds a baby goat at the zoo. Weddings would take place but there would be no glowing Zeidy (grandfather) to dance with the chassan (groom). It was over. He’d be gone. The doctors had tried everything and there was only one procedure left. A bone marrow transplant. If a genetically matching donor could be found somewhere in the world, he’d have a chance. If not, … Continue reading Two Grandpas: Their Sole Chance of Survival Was a Bone Marrow Transplant
Numbers are funny things. They look nice and neat, march in straight rows. They create groups (3 of these and 5 of those) and somehow make us feel that everything is under control. Until one personally finds herself in one of those groups – the wrong one. The one that people don’t like to mention. You know, the C word. Cancer.
That was me. The C monster opened its mouth and grabbed me right before my trip to South America. I had been planning it for months but it wasn’t going to be. I gave myself a compensation prize of some amazing tours in different countries but in between, I toured hospitals.
It was on the big trip to New Zealand, exactly a year ago. Right in the middle of a fantastic trek, when, dressed in a sunhat and attempting to conquer some mountain, I fell apart. I could barely do the last part of the trail, because my body started to weaken. They started doing all kinds of tests. Continue reading Cancer on Its Way Out! Happy Two-Year Birthday to Me! by Shir Tahar
Does Ezer Mizion provide transplants to Israel residents only?
Ezer Mizion receives Search Requests from oncology clinics around the globe. DNA matching is based on ethnics. As the largest Jewish Registry in the world, Ezer Mizion is the natural address for an oncology clinic working with a Jewish patient in Europe, Russia, South Africa, South America, Australia, Canada and the US.
In April 2017, 14 of 31 transplants were done for Israeli residents and 17 for countries around the world including 6 in US and Canada.
Did the partnership with the IDF create any significant change in the success of finding DNA matches?
Due to IDF recruits being young and healthy, they remain on the database for decades, thus greatly increasing the chances of eventually being found to be a match for a patient. In addition, they come from highly varied backgrounds resulting in much increased representation among minority ethnic groups.
In April 2017, 18 of the 21 transplants funded by donor pools are IDF recruits, some having been inducted and joined the registry just a few months ago.
How long, on the average, does it take for a new Bone Marrow Donor Pool to receive the at long awaited letter: You have saved a life!
There can, of course, be no guarantees. In April of 2017, 4 of the 21 transplants funded by donor pools were opened within the last half year.
In recent years, a bone marrow transplant has been proven to be the cure for a myriad of diseases. Many forms of cancer including leukemia and lymphoma in addition to other diseases such as sickle cell anemia and SCID are only some of the life-threatening illnesses that have bowed to its power. Like penicillin, a bone marrow transplant can save lives. But unlike penicillin, it cannot simply be purchased at the local pharmacy.
In her early sixties, Chava was a young grandmother to seven grandchildren. She was looking forward to many milestones in the future until she discovered that her future was very uncertain indeed. Twelve years ago, she had been diagnosed with lymphoma. A self-transplant of stem cells resulted in a cure and the nightmare seemed to be over until several years later the disease returned. Would there be a cure this time? Only if a transplant can be performed using the stem cells of a genetically matching donor. The procedure was not difficult but finding this mysterious donor whose DNA corresponded to hers seemed to be nothing short of miraculous. He could be any place where Jews of her ethnic group have settled…South America, Canada, US, Australia, Europe. Anywhere. The first step was to contact Ezer Mizion, the largest Jewish registry in the world with its database of over 800,000 potential donors. And, lo and behold, there he was, right there in Israel. Continue reading Watching the Grandchildren Grow Up…Together: A DNA Success Story