First time in Israel: Bone marrow drive for Arab Israelis
Non-profit Ezer Mizion embarks on bone marrow drive Wednesday to find matches for two Arab patients in desperate need of bone marrow transplants and to increase Arab donors in national bone marrow bank. Arab Israeli bone marrow donors make up only 0.3% of donors nationwide, making it exceedingly difficult to find bone marrow matches for Arab patients
Collection points will be opened on Wednesday in the north of the country. The Arab public is asked to come provide a blood sample in order to join the national bank of bone marrow donors.
"Ezer Mizion is an organization of mutual guarantee that is committed to helping all citizens of Israel," said Dr. Bracha Zisser, manager of the organization's national bone marrow bank.
"The problem with the low number of Arab Israeli donors must be solved so that we can save lives. I call Arab Israelis to come en masse to help save the lives of two people fighting hard to continue living and to fortify the existing bank for the future."
Bone marrow transplants are used as part of the treatment plan of various diseases, including leukemia and lymphoma.
The need for a dedicated bone marrow donation day stems from the unfortunate fact that the percentage of Arab bone marrow donations within the national bone marrow bank is miniscule, standing at a mere 0.3% of total donations. There are some 480,000 donors in the national bank, only 584 of which are from the Arab sector.
For a bone marrow transplant to be successful, the match between donor and recipient must be very high. Such maximal matching is generally obtained when both donor and recipient are from the same ethnic background because of the varying genetic makeup of different populations. As such, a bone marrow match for an Arab Israeli would likely come from an Arab Israeli donor, just as a bone marrow match for an Ashkenazi Jew would be from an Ashkenazi Jewish donor.
'We are praying day and night'
The two patients at the center of the current bone marrow campaign are a 27-year-old from Kfar Manda and a 34-year-old from Nazareth, both of whom have leukemia and are in desperate need of bone marrow transplants.
"The situation in our house is very grave," said the father of the 27-year-old. "We never dreamt in our worst nightmares that our son would be sick with this disease, but unfortunately, it has happened. We are praying day and night that a bone marrow match be found that he will get better. We hope this happens on the special donation day."
"I call everyone from the sector to come to the bone marrow drive," said the Nazareth man's sister, "not just for my brother, who needs an urgent transplant, but for the entire Arab sector that need to increase its donor bank for future patients."
Repeated searches in world marrow banks
"We are unsuccessful in finding matches for the Arab population within our bank or in the large world bone marrow banks," added Dr. Zisser. "Patients of Arab origin have accumulated, and we carry out repeated and recurrent searches without finding any donors. This confirms the fact that a matching donor must be found amongst people of the same nationality and ethnic origins. The more Arab donors there are, the more matches we could find."
The bone marrow drive will be held at five collection points: Traklin Hashmal in Nazareth, Traklin Hashmal in Haifa, Dr. Zidan's clinic in Kfar Manda, Dr. Varjis' clinic (Clalit) in Kfar Manda, and Traklin Hashmal in Sakhnin.
Healthy adults between ages of 18 to 50 who are not taking any regular medications are asked to come and be checked.
Because lab tests of the blood samples taken during the drive are expensive, Ezer Mizion asks the Jewish and Arab public to donate whatever money they can in order to help in the effort to save lives.
- All those interested in joining the bone marrow bank is invited to call 1-800-236-236