Upcoming testing for donors to children sick with cancer

Testing to be held in Jerusalem on Tuesday.

Petri dish [Illustrative] (photo credit: REUTERS)
Petri dish [Illustrative]
(photo credit: REUTERS)
If you want to save lives, get the thrombocytes in your blood tested for possible inclusion in Zichron Menachem’s new blood components bank. The voluntary, Jerusalem-based organization and Magen David Adom have joined together to save children suffering from cancer.
During chemotherapy, some patients suffer from thrombocytopenia -- an unusually low level of platelets, which cause the blood to clot and plug damaged blood vessels; without them, they can suffer from hemorrhaging and face immediate danger. Thrombocytopenia is common in people with cancer, especially in those receiving chemotherapy.
Cancer patients with a low platelet level may receive a transfusion of platelet cells to prevent spontaneous, heavy bleeding,   But when they are transfused, the platelets only last about three days, and some patients may need multiple transfusions.
The number of potential donors is small, and at present, parents of children who are cancer patients have to run about to find suitable donors when time is at a premium. On Tuesday [January 13], the two organizations will hold a drive to test people’s blood for suitable thrombocytes. It will be held at the Bayit Vegan Guest House at 8 Rehov Hapisga, in Jerusalem’s Bayit Vegan quarter (opposite Mount Herzl) between 2 and 10 p.m.
A unit of thrombocytes has to be collected separately from whole-blood donations. Five blood units must be combined to get one unit of thrombocytes, according to Zichron Menachem. But, as antibodies in the patient’s blood may attack the thrombocytes, such a multiple donation can cause problems for recipients, because it comes from five different people with different antibodies and, if not compatible, can cause serious side effects. This makes the blood bank very small, and in any case, they last for only a short time.
Zichron Menachem was founded some three decades ago by the Ehrenthal family of Jerusalem in  memory of their son Menachem, who died of blood cancer he contracted as a small child. The cancer returned several times before doctors could no longer overcome it.