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Review for Ezer Mizion, Brooklyn, NY, USA

Rating: 5 stars  

Role Reversal from Donor to Recipient
The lab told me: “Maybe you should see a doctor…”
My doctors told me that they were looking for a match. I was praying: “G-d, make them find a donor!”
Yael: “If I am allowed to know who the donor is, that means everything is all right.”
My donor is my personal miracle…
“You probably don’t remember Omri, the boy with cancer that they once collected blood samples for at Ezer Mizion for their bone marrow registry… I remember him well.
I was 32 years old then. I worked as a producer. That day at work, they came around to collect samples for Omri. I registered with Ezer Mizion’s Bone Marrow Donor Registry as a potential donor.
I was thrilled to hear that I was found to be a match for a patient and was doing the pre-donation blood tests. That’s when, in a simple blood test, the lab saw that something was wrong. They told me, ‘Instead of donating your stem cells, you’d better see a doctor.’
I went to a doctor, who sent me straight to the hospital where I stayed for three days until the results came: ‘Yael, you have leukemia!’ In one moment, I turned from a potential donor for a transplant candidate into the patient seeking a matching stem cell donor…
At first I underwent aggressive chemotherapy treatments. When the treatments did not help and the doctors realized that my body was unable to produce healthy cells, they started searching all the registries for a compatible donor. One donor, with a certain degree of compatibility, was located in Germany.
Then, my doctors suddenly informed me that a donor was found here in Israel in Ezer Mizion’s Registry’ — the world’s largest Jewish registry. The donor had just joined the registry and was my match! He was slated just then to travel abroad for a long period of time. Because of the transplant, he put off his flight. This person also signed up with Ezer Mizion’s Registry during the donor recruitment drive to save Omri. In the end, he was the one who saved me…
Three months elapsed from the time I took the simple blood test that revealed my leukemia until the transplant — three months that seemed to me an eternity! I was shattered and drained by the chemotherapy and I was on edge waiting for the matching stem cell donor to turn up…
I remember how my husband, my mother and I sat in the hospital room and laughed at the little bag of blood. There we were, waiting for a dramatic, life-saving “something”, and all of a sudden, the doctor walks in with this little bag of blood and says: ‘Here’s the donation’… At that moment, you can’t even absorb and understand what is really happening, certainly not to appreciate the meaning of that little bag.
We, my family and I, wanted very much to meet the donor and thank him, but it took time. The donor and recipient can’t meet or know anything about one another for at least a year after the transplant. When the medical team sees that the transplant took and that there is no rejection, the contact the registry to ask the donor for his approval, and only then enable him to meet with the recipient.
About a year after the transplant, the brightest moment in my life arrived, the most powerful moment, as far as I am concerned — my encounter with the donor. It was a closure in a double sense: Donor and recipient, and recipient who came to give a donation and ended up receiving it.
The meeting took place in a conference room at Ezer Mizion’s cancer patient guest home. I think there were a lot of people in the room. I myself was floating… I sat with my husband, my mother, nurses from the ward at Ichilov Hospital where I was treated, representatives from Ezer Mizion, and the donor. Words cannot describe this moment! It was too moving and powerful to convert into words.
I sat there and did not know what to think first. The fact that they allowed me to meet the donor proved that the transplant was well received. It worked! It was then that I realized that I am a kind of a survivor. ‘If I am allowed to meet my donor, it means that everything is all right…’ That was one of the thoughts that went through my mind then. ‘I’m healthy! I’ve recovered. I am really healthy!’
G-d, thank you! Thank you, thank you, and again — thank you! Thank you that the transplant worked, thank you for restoring me to life…! Thank you for sending me your agents to save me!
Thank you for Ezer Mizion that set up and run this amazing registry. Thank you for planting compassion in the heart of my donor to wanted to join the registry. Thank you for all the caring people who make this possible by financially supporting this great work.
About two and a half years ago, I had a baby boy. As soon as he was born, I knew what we would call him. We named him Uri – the name of the donor. He was born on Chanukah, so it was a fitting name, too, from the word “Or” — light, but the truth is that we had decided to call him that without any connection to the time of year.
Every summer, I celebrate anew. I have two birthdays a year, and the more important of the two, at least to me, is my summer “birthday” — the date of the transplant. On that day, I was born again. I exchanged my entire immune system. With every year that goes by, I feel more and more that his story is behind me, and I am overjoyed anew.
That’s it. That’s my story. I don’t know if I did a good enough job conveying my feelings. And I don’t know what it will do to you in your heart when you read it. For me — it changed my life.
If my moment can give you a new appreciation of the so-called “routine” moments in your everyday life, and move you to thank the Creator again and again for moments that you used to take for granted, then that one moment of thanks on your part for the blessed routine of your life makes the whole story of ‘my moment’ worthwhile.
Yael Katzir

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