Gift of Life Bone Marrow Foundation
July 19, 2010
MISSION: Gift of Life facilitates bone marrow transplants for patients around the world by increasing the representation of donors of Jewish ethnic ancestry in the international registry.
SERVICES: Recruitment Development Community recruitment campaigns are undertaken to register volunteers within the network. Tissue type is inherited, and the worldwide donor pool is not representative of all ethnic and racial groups. The Foundation’s recruitment strategy focuses on genetic diversity, specifically to increase overall Jewish ethnic representation within the international donor pool. Patient Advocacy Counsel patients and their families about the intricacies of the donor search process, including strategies for extended family studies and international unrelated donor searches. The goal is to ensure that each patient has complete access to all sources of stem cells worldwide. Public Education The Foundation attempts to increase public awareness of the need for unrelated marrow and blood stem cell donors through a variety of media campaigns and published materials. Transplant Coordination The Foundation manages a registry of volunteers willing to participate as stem cell donors should they be matched with patients needing transplants. The database is made available to transplant centers in the United States and abroad, as well as the search coordinating units of other domestic and foreign registries. The Foundation processes patient search requests, orders additional testing of potentially matched donors, and facilitates the ultimate collection and delivery of donor grafts to the transplant centers. Patient Assistance The Foundation endorses a long-standing pro bono policy of providing testing services without charge to patients who lack sufficient medical insurance coverage or personal financial resources.
The Gift of Life Bone Marrow Foundation was established in 1991 as a donor recruitment organization to help save the life of New Jersey leukemia patient Jay Feinberg. Between 1991-95, the organization launched an ambitious grassroots campaign to recruit donors of Eastern-European Jewish ethnicity throughout North America and abroad.
Over the course of four years, 60,000 donors registered with the National Marrow Donor Program in the United States, as well as other national registries in Canada, Israel and many other countries through Gift of Life's campaign.
In 1995, the very last donor tested turned out to be Jay's match, and he was transplanted in Seattle. Although it started as a grassroots effort to save one life, the campaign facilitated transplants for hundreds of other patients also in need of donors.
Gift of Life's mission did not end with Jay's successful transplant. The organization is as vibrant and dynamic today as the day it was founded. Today, Gift of Life manages a registry of over 120,000 bone marrow donors and a bank of over 800 umbilical cord blood units. Since 1991, Gift of Life has facilitated transplants for over 1,500 patients in need, over 400 of them from 2002-2007 alone. During that same time period, Gift of Life made 4,400 matches and processed 18,100 searches for patients worldwide. One in 1,000 of the donors in Gift of Life's registry are called to donate their marrow or blood stem cells each year, a statistic that exceeds by twofold the international average.
Gift of Life is an associate donor registry of the National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP) and a participating member of the worldwide registry Bone Marrow Donors Worldwide. In addition to its accreditation from the NMDP for its Marrow Donor Registry, Gift of Life's Cord Blood Program at UMass is accredited by the American Association of Blood Banks (AABB). Gift of Life also holds state tissue banking licenses required for its activities.
Gift of Life has been a leader in the world of donor registries. It was the first to: utilize bloodless (buccal swab) testing routinely at donor recruitment drives; launch an online registration system for donors to join the registry; establish a Jewish umbilical cord blood bank; establish a donor registry dedicated to recruitment in the Jewish community; develop a secure online system that made it possible for transplant centers and international registries to search and request donors real-time for their patients; fully type donors on a routine basis; become a domestic associate donor registry of the National Marrow Donor Program; establish formal recruitment partnerships with Jewish campus groups, making the recruitment priority to enroll younger donors who will remain in the registry longer, facilitating more transplants over time. Many other registries and recruitment groups have followed Gift of Life's lead by adopting its ideas and initiatives, and many have come to Gift of Life in order to seek advise, train with its leadership and take Gift of Life's strategies home with them to implement in their own communities around the world. Gift of Life is proud to share its expertise with worldwide registries for the benefit of patients everywhere.
Gift of Life has been publicly recognized for its achievements and work helping the Jewish community. Most notably, Gift of Life's founder, Jay Feinberg, is the inaugural recipient of the Charles Bronfman Prize and the National Marrow Donor Program's Allison Atlas Award. Jay is also the recipient of the Hadassah International World Citizenship Award. Most recently, Jay received an Honorary Doctorate from Yeshiva University with Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton.
My wife and I, along with our children are Advocates, Volunteers, Ambassadors, Recruiters and Swabbers for The Gift of Life Bone Marrow Foundation. We have tested over 20,000 people and thereby found matches for several hundred patients and the number will grow every day. It is our life's mission and hope that we have enough in the registry to find a match for anyone that may need it.
I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...
that 2500 lives have been saved so far because of the life saving work of Gift of Life. Their tireless work will continue to enable many, many people another chance to live.
Ways to make it better...
If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...
Give them every penny I could afford to enable their work.
What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...
The entire staff are approachable and very warm. They give us the support we need to continue what we are doing for them.
The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...
The finest I have ever met...Bar None.
If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...
Save the world
Ways to make it better...
people would just stop and take out five minutes of their time to take the painless test instead of walking away and worse, giving me attitude.
In my opinion, the biggest challenges facing this organization are...
Lack of Donations, Volunteers and active Ambassadors.
One thing I'd also say is that...
Jay Feinberg, the executive director of The Gift of Life Foundation and his staff are special people.
How frequently have you been involved with the organization?
About every week
When was your last experience with this nonprofit?
Volunteer & Advocate, Volunteer, Ambassador, Recruiter and Swabber for The Gift of Life Bone Marrow Foundation.