Special to The Jewish Post & News
Ezer Mizion is Israel’s largest medical support organization. The crown jewel of the organization is the Ezer Mizion Bone Marrow Registry, the largest Jewish registry in the world with over 950,000 potential bone marrow donors. The size of the registry allows the organization to facilitate over 30 life saving bone marrow transplants every month of the year in Israel, the USA and around the world. In the month of March alone there were 38 lifesaving transplants!
Ezer Mizion has been able to grow the registry because of a landmark agreement and very special relationship with the IDF, a relationship the army does not have with any other organization: Every new army recruit is offered the option to be swabbed at the Ezer Mizion clinic at the Bakum induction center.
Fifty-sixty thousand new genetically diverse, young and healthy IDF soldiers are added to the registry each year with over half a million soldiers in the registry today!
Twenty years ago, there was an abysmal 8% chance of finding a bone marrow donor for a Jewish patient; today, because of the Ezer Mizion registry, this number has risen to an astounding 76%.
Shulamit is a 51 years old mother of 5 who is a twice breast cancer survivor. In 2015, she was diagnosed with leukemia.
Her doctors were concerned that having been through chemo twice already she may not survive a third time, but they decided to take the chance and look for a bone marrow donor. In the meantime, her son, who was living in Holland at the time, returned to Israel to help manage her medical care, including large numbers of blood donations.
“I had come to terms with the fact that I wouldn’t see my daughter drafted into the army, dance at my children’s weddings or meet my grandchildren.”
All that changed when a soldier named Barak Schneider came into her life.
After some time, a match was found. Barak, a soldier in the IDF, had joined the Ezer Mizion Bone Marrow Registry when he was drafted into the army. He joined the army as an active athlete, having been Israel’s taekwondo champion and represented Israel in competitions around the world. He had only been in the army for half a year when he got the call that he was a match, but he didn’t hesitate at all.
Barak said, “My mother was concerned at first, but she calmed down when she realized that stem cell donation is a much simpler process these days than it used to be.”
Within two weeks Barak donated bone marrow to Shulamit and she began the process of recovery.
According to international law, the donation has to be kept anonymous for the first year. Then, after the patient heals they can meet their donor if they wish.
“Recently, I was privileged to meet Barak at Ezer Mizion’s Bone Marrow Registry headquarters. I couldn’t believe how young he was! Our meeting was extremely emotional. I told him that I consider him another son and he replied that he considers me a second mother.”
Even more amazing, Barak’s two older brothers were recently discovered to be a match for another patient. His oldest brother, Peleg, ended up donating to that person.
Shulamit said, “I never imagined that such a young person would save my life. I am eternally grateful to him for the chance to watch my children and grandchildren grow up. Thank you Barak and Ezer Mizion!”
Winnipeg native Solly Dreman has spent the latter part of his life living in Israel serving as a liason between the diaspora and Israel. Solly, who is a professor emeritus at Ben Gurion university and clinical psychologist, and who has used his unique interpersonal skills to help organizations throughout the world, has a very close bond with Ezer Mizion.
“When I heard Shulamit’s story, and others like it, I realized how important it is to the Jewish community, whether on the other side of the world or right here in Winnipeg, that Ezer Mizion’s bone marrow registry flourish. The more people the organization can swab, in particular the young and healthy IDF soldiers that make up a large portion of the registry, the greater the chances of saving many more lives.”
Recently Ezer Mizion celebrated saving over 3100 lives in over 47 countries worldwide. It is special people like Barak and other Israeli soldiers that help save lives around the world. For more information you can visit www.Ezermizion.ca or call Dan Rand at 647-799-1475.