Gift of Life Bone Marrow Foundation
July 27, 2010
This is from a speech I gave in March 2009:
I joined the Gift of Life family in December 2001. It was quite a busy time in my life; I had just found out I was pregnant with twin! And I had a 2 year old toddler. After mailing in my cheek swab the whole event went to the back burner. I was busy with my twin newborn baby boys and my daughter. In between all the bottles and diaper changes I received a phone call from a woman, Mrs. Erhman, introducing herself as a volunteer from Gift of Life Bone Marrow Registry. After listening to her tell me the news that I was an initial match to a patient needing a bone marrow transplant or a stem cell donation I was intrigued and curious to know more about how I could have been chosen to save someone’s life. Such a unique opportunity and I was the special one chosen! I was such a regular mom cooking mac and cheese, buying milk at the grocery store, taking my kids to play at the park,etc. What made me so special to have this chance to do the most wonderful mitzvah in the world? After learning more about the donation process I realized that it had nothing to do with what I did on a day to day basis but what G-d had given me in my body. My blood and stem cells were the miraculous match to help save this person’s life. It made it even clearer to me that G-d really is totally in charge of the world we live in. I didn’t go out and buy the lottery ticket from my corner store. The lottery found me!
I donated my peripheral blood stem cells in May 2003 at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. Without the help of my mom and husband it would not have been possible. My husband supported and encouraged me and helped in every which way to help make my donation a possibility. It was the most amazing experience of my life (besides of course giving birth to my 3 children). It was with heartfelt prayers that my stem cells flew to Israel.
One year later, May 2004, I met my recipient at the Annual Gift of Life dinner in New York City. That day my children, myself and my husband all gained a new Bubby (grandmother), Bubby Chaia AY”H. It was wonderful to share our lives and know that I was able to give her children and grandchildren their grandmother back. It was with a shock then that July 2004 I received a phone call from Gift of Life. My Bubby Chaia needed my stem cells again. Without a moments hesitation I said “just tell me where and when and I will be there.” So August 2004 my husband and I got to spend the day at Weil Corneil – Presbyterian Hospital for my second stem cell donation. We prayed that my stem cells would be the miracle cure that Bubby Chaia AY”H needed.
It was with a saddened heart and tears in my eyes that I found out that Bubby Chaia AY”H passed away Rosh Hashana/September 2005. The prayer we say “Who by fire, who by sickness” took on new meaning that year. I made a vow to myself – my new year’s resolution. I will do everything I can to help the Gift of Life family.
It is now 7 years after my first donation and Gift of Life has become my immediate family. I may be a busy mom who works as an office manager and then goes home to change hats into cook, homework tutor, laundry mat, carpool driver, etc but Gift of Life is still just as important to me. My children have heard me tell my experience over and over again at Gift of Life information seminars or just to relatives and friends. By having them hear it they know how important it is to try to help save a life. By showing them by example the see it as well as hear it. Every other month my husband and I donate blood to a child with cancer. Our children talk about how they will go into the Gift of Life registry when they are older; donate blood when they are 10 (because they will be big and strong at that age ïŠ - we keep reminding them they have to wait until 17). My daughter has been so influenced that she has grown her hair to donate to a child with cancer who needs a wig.
By making Gift of Life a family event we make it part of our daily lives. And just like we all have time to breathe and eat we have time for Gift of Life.
I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...
that I was a life saving match for a patient needing a stem cell donation.
Ways to make it better...
If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...
get more money to help fund the testing to find the life saving matches! (and get t-shirts for all the volunteers :-)
What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...
seeing how all the hard work turns into miracle life saving matches.
The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...
absolutely amazing. They are kind, patient, caring, loving and friendly. The best people to work with!
If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...
help find life saving matches for ALL patients in need.
Ways to make it better...
if nothing. My experience during my donation process and after as a volunteer and ambassador has been absolutely amazing.
In my opinion, the biggest challenges facing this organization are...
that people are scared and misinformed about the donation process. It's easy and simple to join - just a swab of the inside of your cheek. Donation is relatively easy and GOL is by your side the ENTIRE time.
One thing I'd also say is that...
you couldn't find a better group of people to do this most special job. To be G-d's life saving angels.
How frequently have you been involved with the organization?
About every week
When was your last experience with this nonprofit?
Donor & I donated my stem cells in 2003 and again in 2004. Since then I have been an active volunteer and ambassador to help spread Gift of Life's mission.