Every three minutes, someone in the United States is diagnosed with a blood cancer such as leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma. The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society estimates that 186,400 people will receive this frightening news just this year.
While a bone marrow or blood stem cell transplant can serve as a cure for leukemia and other blood cancers, only 30 percent of patients have a matching donor in their families. The remaining 70 percent must hope that a compatible stranger can be found through the global registry.
For the past 30 years, Gift of Life Marrow Registry, a nonprofit based in Boca Raton, Florida, has been working globally to find matching bone marrow and blood stem cell donors for patients battling nearly 100 diseases, including blood cancer, immune disorders and sickle cell.
The best chance of finding a matching donor is with people who share the same ethnicity and race—and Gift of Life was founded due to a lack of Jewish donors in the national registry when Jay Feinberg was 22 years old and unable find a match to cure his leukemia.
Determined to save his life, Feinberg’s family and friends set on a 4-year grassroots donor recruitment campaign, resulting in the enrollment of more than 60,000 new donors in the worldwide bone marrow registry. Feinberg eventually found his lifesaving match, and his diagnosis started the butterfly effect that became Gift of Life. Feinberg has never taken for granted the gift that his bone marrow donor gave to him.
Says Feinberg.,“Everyone has the power to spread light by joining the registry and giving the most precious gifts of all—hope and health.”
Today, under Feinberg’s leadership as founder and CEO, Gift of Life has grown into a multi-faceted organization that operates a global marrow and blood stem cell donor registry, donor collection center, cellular therapy laboratory and a soon-to-launch biotech entity. To date, the organization has a membership of nearly 400,000 individuals who have volunteered to save a life, and has facilitated more than 4,000 transplants.
Through many years of recruiting and partnerships with Jewish communities and organizations, Gift of Life has radically increased the rates of survival for patients of Jewish descent (from 5 to approximately 80 percent), and is working to do the same for other ethnicities and races.
Those between the ages of 18 and 35 and in general good health can join Gift of Life’s Swab Sameach campaign that is dedicated to uniting the Jewish community with the common goal of saving lives. Joining the registry is simple and can be done with a quick and painless cheek swab.To get your free kit, visit www.giftoflife.org/swabsameach.