Girl, interrupted

Lia Isakov, six, seeks $500,000 for experimental leukemia treatment in the US.

Lia Isakov was unable to attend first grade. (photo credit: Courtesy)
Lia Isakov was unable to attend first grade.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
In recent weeks, the Mevaseret Zion community has rallied around resident Lia Isakov, six, whose family is seeking donations to fund her treatment for acute leukemia.
Isakov, who was to begin first grade this year, was diagnosed with the disease three years ago and underwent both chemotherapy and bone marrow transfer treatments, which at the time were thought to have put the disease into remission.
However, the blood cancer returned at the beginning of the school year, forcing Isakov to be unable to attend first grade after the first day. She suffers from acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), which is often treatable by the aforementioned methods – but if those methods fail, the disease will run unchecked.
The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia has developed a new treatment for severe cases of ALL called T-cell therapy, a treatment recognized as a “breakthrough therapy” by the US government. This experimental treatment, which has shown proven results in a majority of cases, is expensive and takes two years to undergo, but appears to be the last chance for Isakov.
The Isakov family (Lia’s mother, a music teacher, and her elder brother, who is currently serving in the IDF and donated bone marrow for Lia’s initial treatment) are seeking to raise some $500,000 to cover the costs of undergoing the T-cell therapy procedure.
This sum is also to cover living expenses during extended stays in Philadelphia, and travel costs from Israel for multiple visits.
It may seem like an insurmountable sum, but according to Racheli Gal-Or, a Mevaseret resident who is one of the organizers of the campaign, the case has struck a nerve in the community, and within only a few weeks of opening the fund-raising effort, almost half of the goal had been reached.
Gal-Or said that “people have come out from all over the city” in support, stressing that the Isakovs, a single-parent family, have no assets to sell or other ways to pay for the treatment. Gal-Or added that the campaign has been greatly aided by Liat Shimon, wife of Mevaseret Zion Local Council head Yoram Shimon, who has used her connections to drive it forward.
The Shimons’ son suffers from an acute form of brain cancer, and is under home hospice care; his chances are “not good,” noted Gal-Or.
The donation drive is being overseen in part by Kav Lachayim, an organization dedicated to “helping thousands of children and others suffering from serious illnesses, complex disabilities and rare symptoms,” according to its website.
In addition to regular donations, the campaign organizers are planning a series of benefit concerts and events in support of Isakov, the first of which is on Sunday, February 1 at 8 p.m., at Mevaseret Zion’s Harel High School at 6 Hahotzvim Street. The event, with a suggested entry of NIS 100 per person, is billed as a night of song in support of Isakov and features performances by multiple artists, headlined by singer Ruhama Raz.
“I dream I will become a magician and when I grow up, that I succeed in healing children like myself,” said Isakov, who wants to be a dancer when she is older, in a press release. She wishes the disease “would be finished,” so she can go back to playing with her friends, playing checkers with her mother and dancing.
Kav Lachayim: (03) 925-0505 or