Editor’s Note: The following release was submitted by Congregation Kol Ami.
At Congregation Kol Ami, a Reform synagogue in White Plains, this coming Yom Kippur is a special opportunity to help others by becoming a potential bone marrow or stem cell donor. Transplanted bone marrow and stem cells are used to treat leukemia, lymphoma and other serious blood-related diseases. Because the need for potential donors, particularly Jewish donors, is great, Congregation Kol Ami will take part in a nationwide, High Holy Days donor-recruitment drive by the Gift of Life Bone Marrow Foundation. The foundation helps match donors to patients.
Joining the registry simply requires a cheek swab to collect cells and a quick health history evaluation. Eligible donors must be between the ages of 18 and 60 and in general good health. The drive will be on Yom Kippur day, September 14, from 9 a.m. to2 p.m. in the Kol Ami’s Petschek Gallery.
Of the more than 140,000 Americans diagnosed with a serious blood-related disease, some will need bone marrow transplants to survive. Finding a compatible donor whose bone marrow will not set off a cascade of potentially fatal complications is essential.
While nearly a third of these patients will be lucky enough to find a matching bone marrow donor within their own families, the rest—more than 7,000 per year--will need a transplant from a stranger. For many years, American Jews needing transplants faced a statistically uphill struggle. Because tissue types essential for matching donor to recipient are inherited and there were few Jews in the registry, the chance of finding a match was less than 5 percent. The Gift of Life helps find donors within Jewish communities, where the chances of a match are greatest.
“So many of us have family and friends who have been affected by blood-related cancers. This is our opportunity to help save the lives of those in need of a bone marrow or blood stem cell transplant by joining the donor registry, “said Jane Friedberg executive director of Kol Ami.