The chances of an Ashkenazi Jew finding a compatible bone marrow contribution in the three existing Israeli bone-marrow banks to treat certain cancers or other disorders are 75 percent, while for Sephardi Jews the odds are only 30% and for mixed Ashkenazi-Sephardi Jews 6% - with non-Jewish minorities even lower.
So said Dr. Bracha Zisser, head of the main bone marrow bank at Ezer Mizion. The Knesset Labor, Social Affairs and Health Committee, headed by MK Haim Katz (Likud), united private members' bills by MKs Zevulun Orlev (Habayit Hayehudi), Ze'ev Bielski (Kadima) and Amir Peretz (Labor) to arrange for and monitor the activities of the three tissue data banks and help them finance their operations.
The data banks hold tissue-type information on 520,000 people, including soldiers.
Orlev said the current voluntary facilities received no state financial assistance.
Health Ministry associate director-general Dr. Boaz Lev conceded that there were populations that did not go for tissue-type testing and therefore had a small chance of getting the necessary donation if needed.
Three-quarters of patients needing bone marrow cannot get a compatible donation from a family member, so they must apply to the bone-marrow data bank to find a donor. Without a donor, such patients will die.
MK Rahel Adatto (Kadima) noted that the government had found NIS 500 million for the purchase of H1N1 flu vaccine, but had not found money to finance bone-marrow data banks.
Unless funding is found, a bill to ensure the existence of the banks cannot be passed, Katz said.