Bone marrow samples from Jews of a variety of ethnic origins not well represented in tissue databases – Ethiopian, Yemenite, Iraqi, Georgian, Caucasus, Bokharan and Kurdish – will be sought in a special donor day by the Ezer Mizion bone marrow tissue-typing bank.

The first-of-its-kind campaign will take place around the country on Thursday, May 31. The voluntary organization is also requesting financial donations, as it costs NIS 250 to process each bone marrow sample.

Saliva samples will be taken at shopping centers between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. on that day – with participating malls listed at www.ami.org.il.

The tissue is sought to save the lives of three Israelis and one American of these ethnic origins, who suffer from various types of cancer. They are: Hanit Elbaz, a 32- year-old Rehovot resident and mother of three who is of Yemenite origin and suffers from lymphoma; Yosef Karchili, 54, a Holon resident and father of two who is of Georgian (of the former Soviet Union) origin and has leukemia; Nissim Moshayov, 48, of Bokharan origin and a father of two, who lives in Petah Tikva and has lymphoma; and Dan Hardon, 83, of Iraqi origin, who suffers from leukemia and lives in New York. Other future patients will benefit if a match is not found for the four.

The chance for a suitable match rises significantly when the donor and recipient have a similar genetic makeup, which usually occurs when they are of the same ethnic origin.

Over the centuries and even the millennia, Jews living in close communities retained their genetic characteristics.

Thus, the more people of similar ethnic origins who are listed in the bone marrow tissue-typing bank, the more likely a match will be found.

About 2.9 percent of those listed in the database are Jews of Yeminite origin; with Iraqis at about 1.9%; Georgians: 0.7%; Ethiopians: 0.5%; Kurds: 0.5%; Bokharan: 0.4%; and Caucasus: 0.3%. By comparison, 36.5% of those registered in the databank are of Ashkenazi origin.

Dr. Bracha Zisser, director of the Ezer Mizion bone marrow registry, said on Sunday that the campaign is very important because it could result in many lives saved.

The process of taking samples no longer involves taking blood samples, and taking saliva samples from the mouth is absolutely painless.

Matching stem cells produced by the marrow are also removed in a simple procedure – through a vein in the hand, as in blood donation, rather than through minor, often painful surgery on a hip bone, as was done in the past.

The entire procedure takes four hours, and Zisser called on members of the relevant ethnic groups to be tested.

Please LIKE our Facebook page - it makes us stronger