Sunday, December 9, 2007

After 300,000 Misses, Matching Blood Found for Leukemia Patient


This is truly a time of miracles! Baruch Hashm!!!

by Hillel Fendel

( Saying, "Chances of success were worse than winning the lottery," a 13-year-old leukemia patient was thrilled to learn on Saturday night that a matching stem cell donor had been found.

Omri Attiya, 13, who lives in Holon with his parents and two brothers, Dvir and Amichai, was stricken with leukemia about a year ago. When medical treatment failed, he was told that a stem cell transplant from a genetically compatible donor was the only chance to save his life. His doctors turned to Ezer Mizion's Bone Marrow Donor Registry, Israel's National Registry, which includes 300,000 potential donors - yet no match was found.

Two weeks ago, Ezer Mizion initiated a special campaign specifically on behalf of Omri - and it worked! Some 20,000 people were tested, and happily, one of them was found to be a perfect match. Omri himself said, "The chances of finding a matching donor were less than my chances of winning the national lottery - yet it happened! I am of both Sephardic and Ashkenazi descent, thus making my chances more difficult."

The identity of the donor is not yet known, and in fact is not permitted to be publicized until a year after the donation is made. Omri explained on Voice of Israel Radio that the donor will not have to undergo an operation: "Rather, the donor undergoes a five-hour recycling-type procedure in which blood is removed, stem cells are taken from the blood, and then the blood is returned to the donor. That's it; there's no risk at all, even though people are always scared of what it means to be a stem cell donor."

Though would-be donors do not pay to be tested in the bone marrow drive, the cost of lab testing each blood sample is $60. Ezer Mizion's Registry has saved the lives of well over 300 cancer patients around the world so far.

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