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.
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
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
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
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
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.