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
June 2017 – BMDR ACTIVITY SUMMARY
22 lifesaving transplants
17 from personalized donor pools- see below
2,513 total transplants
858,125 members in registry Continue reading Because of You!
MAY 2017 – BMDR ACTIVITY SUMMARY
28 lifesaving transplants
15 from personalized donor pools (see below)
2,491 total transplants
856,665 members in registry Continue reading Because of You!
When staff really cares. When it’s not just a job…punch in/punch out. When the CEO gives out his cell number to recently orphaned children telling them to call anytime (and they do). When volunteers are inspired to drop what they are doing, time and time again, to help out a Jew in need… this is Jewish compassion at its best.
Sometimes it requires the utmost sensitivity. Like the kallah (bride) whose chassan (groom) was discovered shortly before the wedding to have leukemia. The wedding was rescheduled and the newlywed couple tried to build a home, albeit in a different way than planned, together. Ezer Mizion supported them in every way. The nightmare is over now. Please look over our shoulder, dear reader and supporter, as we read together the letter sent to the Ezer Mizion office. It is your gifts that enable Ezer Mizion to continue being the strong, dependable pillar for so many to lean on.
To the Fantastic, Special Organization: Ezer Mizion!
First of all, we want to thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your boundless giving and support, which helped us and gave us the tools we needed to get through a most difficult period, physically strong and emotionally healthy.
About two years ago, we got engaged, b’sha’ah tovah u’mutzlachat. The engagement period passed by pleasantly, filled with many hopes and dreams about the home that we would build together and the happy life we would share.
We do not know Hashem’s (G-d’s) calculations, but we do know that everything He does is for the best. And so, a month before our wedding, my husband was diagnosed with leukemia.
Suddenly, everything looked different… The wedding was pushed up to take place a few days later, and immediately afterwards, we began treatment. The physical and emotional pain and the challenges involved in these treatments are too complex to describe…
Amid all the agony and frustration, the Ezer Mizion team – a marvelous organization unmatched in its unfaltering assistance and support – appeared on the scene, truly loyal messengers. They helped us in countless ways, both practical and emotional. They were always there, even before we realized we needed something.
Ezer Mizion wisely and gently set us up with an expert therapist, which, in our sensitive situation, was truly a lifesaver!! She listened, supported, encouraged, and counseled us. She baruch Hashem (thank G-d) helped us in this very delicate situation, not to break down, but to remain happy, strong, optimistic, and full of emunah (faith), using our challenge to grow and form an even closer bond.
Again, we feel eternally grateful to those who were behind all this outpouring of chessed- those who helped, those whose financial support enabled this help…
We give you our heartfelt blessings that you should always be on the giving end, in good health, joy and happiness, and may Divine assistance accompany you in all your endeavors.
With our greatest appreciation,
Moshe and Chedvah
Jewish compassion…Sometimes it requires the flexibility of changing plans at the drop of a hat. A family with three small children recently emigrated to Israel from France. Resettling was hard enough but became overwhelming when the wife was suddenly diagnosed with cancer. Rides to the clinic, professional emotional support, regular meals, child care assistance, medical advocacy would all be theirs in a short time. But right now, this morning when Ezer Mizion became aware of their plight, they needed lunch. Food strengthens the body. Food invigorates the soul. Food enables the family to handle the crisis suddenly thrust upon them. And no lunch was yet on schedule. A call went out to volunteers: I know it’s very short notice but can anyone provide a hot lunch for five people today and for the next two days? In 1.5 minutes, that’s ninety seconds (!), one of our angels responded. A delicious, attractively served lunch was prepared by one volunteer, delivered by another to the family on time as if it were weeks in the preparation.
Ezer Mizion: where Jewish compassion provides the electricity that makes the wheels go ‘round.
Would you like to join the ‘wheel of compassion’?
Below are the donor pools that saved lives this month, and their total transplants.
Alan Cohen Donor Pool – 76 lives saved
David & Sara Farajun Donor Pool – 79 lives saved – 5 this month!
Tommy & Yehudit Farkas Donor Pool – 1 life saved
Hole In One Donor Pool – 20 lives saved – 2 this month!
Leora Kuhillow Donor Pool – 9 lives saved
Manny & Mojdeh Malekan Donor Pool – 1 life saved
Irving & Cherna Moskowitz Donor Pool – 21 lives saved
Ronald O. Perelman Donor Pool – 28 lives saved
Rolf & Ruth Redlauer Donor Pool – 6 lives saved
Dudu & Chagit Saada Donor Pool – 1 life saved
Alan & Nicole Samson Donor Pool – 7 lives saved
Ephriam & Devora Schreiber Donor Pool – 1 life saved
Farzad & Sheila Shahery Donor Pool – 2 lives saved
Shva Company Donor Pool – 5 lives saved
Wiener, Widawsky, Rebenwurzel Donor Pool in memory of Shmuel and Yaffa Herman – 1 life saved
Marjorie & Arnold Ziff Donor Pool (Anne Manning’s Donor Pool) – 1 life saved
Maor Cohen is a highly sensitive man who is known at Ezer Mizion as Mr. Lego. He raises the spirits of both children and adults battling life-threatening diseases with his Lego Workshop in addition to his hospital visits to those who cannot attend the workshop. Many have asked how he manages to create deep relationships that are too often broken when his ‘lego-friends’ leaves this world. Below is his answer. Continue reading “For You Remember All Things Forgotten” by Maor Cohen
OUR AMAZING 21ST CENTURY
Medical science has made great strides with illnesses that, not too long ago, afforded very little hope for the patient. In some cases, even the ‘man on the street’ has become part of the remedy. Bone marrow transplants are a case in point. Bone marrow transplants have become the cure for a wide variety of life-threatening diseases ranging from many types of cancer to immunodeficiency syndromes and anemias.
WHAT IS BONE MARROW?
Bone marrow is the soft tissue inside a bone which produces the body’s blood cells (red cells, white cells and platelets).
WHAT ARE STEM CELLS?
Stem cells are immature blood cells produced in the bone marrow. They can develop into red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets.
HOW DOES A TRANSPLANT EFFECT A CURE?
A transplant donated by a healthy person can help patients with serious diseases live longer and healthier lives. If the bone marrow is damaged, the new cells produced will also be damaged. A replacement of undamaged cells will enable the body to produce healthy blood cells, thus creating the cure.
WHAT DISEASES HAVE BEEN FOUND TO BENEFIT FROM A BONE MARROW TRANSPLANT?
AML, ALL, CLL, CML, Juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia, Hodgkin lymphoma, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, severe aplastic anemia, Fanconi anemia, Paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria, Pure red cell aplasia, Amegakaryocytosis/congenital thrombocytopenia, SCID, Beta thalassemia major, Sickle Cell Disease, Krabbe disease, Hurler syndrome, MLD, ALD
EXACTLY WHAT IS TRANSPLANTED?
Three sources of cells used for transplants are:
- Bone marrow (BM)
- Stem cells from peripheral blood (PBSC)
- Blood collected from the newborn’s umbilical cord after its birth (CB)
The doctor doing the transplant chooses the source most appropriate for the patient, taking into consideration the needs and preferences of the donor.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN AUTOLOGOUS AND ALLOGENEIC STEM CELL TRANSPLANTS?
An autologous transplant involves only the patient’s own stem cells which are then transplanted back into the patient several days later after high doses of chemo and sometimes radiation. An allogeneic stem cell transplant is done using cells from another donor.
WHY CAN’T ANY KINDLY PERSON DONATE HIS MARROW?
Human leukocyte antigens (HLA) are proteins that are present in most body cells. These antigens help identify tissue types. The immune system utilizes HLA antigens in order to identify the cells that belong in the body and the cells that do not belong in the body. If the system recognizes cells very different from itself, it will reject them.
In one’s tissue-typing system, there are two groups of antigens. One group is inherited from the mother and the other group from the father.
HLA proteins are important in determining the compatibility of donors and patients for a stem cell transplant. In order to match tissue types for a transplant, the compatibility of ten of the donor and patient antigens are checked (generally, A, DR, C, B, and DQ).
When the transplant center, to which the blood samples were sent, examine the level of compatibility, they check the genetic similarity of the patient’s and the donor’s tissue types. Usually, a compatibility of at least 8 out of 10 antigens is necessary in order to approve a donor for a transplant.
WHY IS GENETICS A SUCH A MAJOR FACTOR?
Strict matching is necessary since the key to a successful replacement is genetics. If the donor matches the recipient, the transplant is not likely to be rejected and the chances of success are excellent. A sibling is a good choice.
WHAT IF THERE IS NO SIBLING AVAILABLE OR THE SIBLINGS’ DNA DO NOT MATCH?
A request is then sent by the oncology clinic to a universal registry which will search its database for a compatible potential donor. A match may be found among the patient’s neighbors or it may be a resident of a country across the ocean. The potential donor is usually thrilled to become a crucial part of a life-saving medical miracle.
ARE ALL REGISTRIES THE SAME?
If the patient is a member of a minority ethnic group and a Registry which focuses on that ethnic group exists, a request is sent to that Registry thus greatly increasing the chances of finding a match.
HOW DOES THE REGISTRY DETERMINE DNA?
The new registrant swabs the inside of his cheek with a Q-tip. The saliva is then analyzed for its genetic components. DNA testing is costly ($50 per test) which is why a registry must put a cap on the amount of registrants it can accept. When donations are made by the public, the increased funding enables the registry to grow, thus boosting the chances of a positive response to each search request.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A BONE MARROW TRANSPLANT AND A STEM CELL TRANSPLANT?
Both are the same as far as results are concerned. However, the method of harvesting the stem cells differs. Not that long ago, stem cells were obtained from bone marrow taken from the donor. This procedure was painful for the donor and often discouraged the donation. One cannot imagine the devastation by the patient and his family when a perfectly matching donor refuses to go ahead.
WHAT IS THE PROCESS OF STEM CELL DONATION? IS THERE PAIN INVOLVED IN STEM CELL DONATION?
In recent years, the cells are harvested from the donor’s blood. Medication is given to the donor beforehand to increase the stem cells in his circulatory system. Blood is then taken much the same as when donating a pint of blood. The stem cells are extracted from the blood which is then given back to the donor. The process continues for hours but the donor is kept comfortable during the whole procedure.
In some cases, minor discomfort such as muscle aches are felt but these soon disappear. The tremendous emotional satisfaction as he watches that little ‘bag of life’ taken to his soon-to-be blood brother will eradicate any lingering pains.
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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.
Everyone dreams about it. Very few ever have the opportunity. I was one of those very few. True, I didn’t jump into the ocean and save a child from drowning or dash into a burning building to save a baby but I did save a life. A forty-year-old cancer patient had only one chance to survive—a bone marrow transplant. A genetic match is vital for success and I was that genetic match. An Ezer Mizion staff member asked me if I would do it. Would I do it???! How could I not do it?! How could I live the rest of my life knowing that because of a little discomfort, a little inconvenience, a young woman was prevented from living the rest of hers? Continue reading Saving a Life: The See-Saw Remains on Up
Summary as of March 2017
31 lifesaving transplants
16 from personalized donor pools
2,432 total transplants
848,029 members in registry
Below are the donor pools that saved lives this month, and their total transplants. Continue reading Because of You!