Now saliva samples can be used to test bone marrow donors

Health officials believe that not having to submit to needle punctures will encourage more would-be donors to come.

saliva sample 88 (photo credit: )
saliva sample 88
(photo credit: )
A campaign to find suitable bone marrow donors has been launched that involves the taking of saliva rather than blood samples. This is the first time such a drive has been set up in Israel. The processing is still just as expensive, at $66 per sample, but it is believed that not having to submit to needle punctures will encourage more would-be donors to come. The Zichron Menachem voluntary organization in Jerusalem and the Hadassah Medical Organization started the special month-long campaign on Monday and hopes thousands of people whose tissue type is not yet in the bone marrow registry will give saliva samples. They are specifically trying to save the lives of two women - Dafna, a mother of three in her 30s, and Maya, a 23-year-old Jerusalem student. They suffer from cancer and need bone marrow/stem cells of a specific type. The women are Jews of Bukharan, Moroccan and Hungarian extraction. The more people who give samples, the more likely a suitable donor is to be found. Although saliva samples have been taken for several years in the US by the bone-marrow bank headed by Jay Feinstein (who himself is a bone marrow recipient and recovered leukemia patient), it has not been done before in Israel. Prof. Reuven Or, a senior bone marrow department physician at Hadassah, is the first in Israel to adopt the saliva-sample technique. The samples will be processed in a US lab, and the tissue types will be stored in an international data bank. Saliva samples will be taken at Zichron Menachem headquarters in Jerusalem's Bayit Vagan neighborhood, at the Ashdod Municipality, and at the Daniel Hotel in Herzliya. Check the organization's Web site for more information. Donations for processing the samples should be sent to Zichron Menachem, Keren Maya, POB 16383, 91163, Jerusalem or to the organization at 23 Rehov Harav Frank in Jerusalem. Money may also be transferred directly to Bank Leumi, branch 766 in Jerusalem's Bayit Vagan neighborhood, account number 21785/19 and should be designated for Keren Maya. Donations can also be made directly via the Internet site.