(photo credit: SYLVIE ROSOKOFF)
Of the more than 53,000 participants in Birthright Israel who have given tissue samples from cells in their mouths for testing to see if they can be bone marrow donors, 1,543 matches were made and 205 of them have saved others’ lives.
The tissue samples were taken by Gift of Life, an international public bone-marrow and blood stem cell registry that has for 25 years facilitated bone marrow transplants for children and adults suffering from leukemia, lymphoma and other potentially fatal diseases.
To join the bone-marrow registry, they had only to give a swab of cells from the inside of the cheek.
Birthright Israel’s director Gidi Mark said, “We are very proud of our longstanding partnership with Gift of Life and honored to have so many of our participants and alumni committed to such a noble cause. This collaboration perfectly illustrates how the experience of Birthright Israel can not only change lives, but also save lives.”
Molly Livingstone, the representative of Gift of Life in Israel, said, “Our message is the power of one. We meet thousands of Birthright Israel participants and share a moment with them that is about social activism and humanity to connect and save lives. We speak to a room and motivate each person to be the best they can be. They share this moment, here in Israel, with fellow participants – the Israelis (mostly IDF soldiers) who join the groups.”
Birthright Israel was founded in 1999 with the aim of fostering a connection between young Jews in the Diaspora and the State of Israel, Jewish identity and the Jewish community through a free educational tour of the country. Since its establishment, more than half a million young adults from all over the world have been exposed to Jewish heritage and history and connected with Jewish identity.