Thursday, September 22, 2016

Saving Adam (#Hope4Adam) - A Personal Memory

Twenty-four years ago, I got a phone call. They were calling from the Bone Marrow Registry and I was a match. I needed to do two more rounds of testing to confirm. I was the last chance for a 31 year old man who had leukemia. I almost started to cry. I can't do it, I explained. My husband is already in Israel. My daughter is already in Israel. I'm leaving the US in just over a week and I'm here alone with my two very young sons.

This has been my dream for 20 years. I can't. I can't. Oh God, how can I say can I say yes? The woman calmed me down in seconds. No problem, she answered. We partner with Hadassah Ein Kerem. You can do the tests there, donate there.

So  I finished packing, said my goodbyes. I packed 9 suitcases, 6 carry-ons, a carriage and a car seat. I got on the plane and watched my boys fall asleep. My whole life was on that plane, on a ship crossing the Atlantic, or waiting for us on the other side. I loved the house with the curved staircase we rented; I loved my new neighbors who came with cakes and food and advice.

Vered called from Jerusalem and my husband drove me to be tested. The first was a simple blood test. A few days later, Vered called again. You matched most of the criteria. We need to do the more involved test. I went back again; and again they took blood. A few days later, Vered called again. You match. I started to cry. She told me I had to come in again - twice in the next few weeks. Each time, I would "donate" a pint of blood that would be given back to me during the operation. She handed me a book filled with  papers about the operation and though I typically read everything, I didn't open the book. I felt it was in God's hands and God would see me through.

I checked into the hospital. They put me on the Oncology floor but in a private room. Vered brought me a robe with my name embroidered on it in Hebrew. The doctor came in and explained what was to happen. I told him that I realized something. My father came from the Ukraine, a place known to be very anti-Semitic. My mother's family came from could say the same there as well. "How do I know I'm not trying to save an anti-Semite?" I joked with the doctor.

I guess the doctor thought I was serious. He looked down at the folder in his hand and then said something like, "I can't tell you who you are doing this for. It isn't allowed. But I can tell you he is one of the Am (one of the people of Israel)."

He put the folder down, checked my blood pressure again, and left the room. The folder was right there and I think it was his way of telling me and so I looked. He was 31 years old. He was Jewish. He died a few weeks after the procedure that was supposed to save his life.

The operation was so painful - not like what they do today. They drilled into my bones and extracted as much as they could. More than normal because the man was very large and they'd been asked to take more if possible. The anesthesiologist did something that was definitely against protocol, if not illegal.  He left the room during the operation and before the drugs had a chance to work. I could feel them drilling and when I cried out, I could hear the doctor apologizing, asking where the anesthesiologist had gone and ordering a nurse to go get him fast. He couldn't stop the operation, he explained to me (I was awake for the beginning) because they needed to get the bone marrow to Ben Gurion airport to meet a plane and there was no time to stop.

The anesthesiologist came back in the room and did something and I fell asleep. I woke up hours later. When the doctor came in to tell me that all went well, they'd taken even more than they'd hoped and they were confident that it would work, he joked and asked me if I would do it again. I started to cry. And he quickly assured me he was joking.

Vered called a few weeks later to tell me that the recipient was doing well, that the marrow was reproducing and he was feeling well. She called me a few weeks later to tell me something terrible  had gone wrong and he'd died anyway. I spoke to an oncologist here who explained that the mistake was the doctor's fault. "They didn't support the platelets," Whatever that means.

Would I do it again?

There is now a young father - also 31 years old. His name is Adam Krief. They've learned so much in 24 years - the process is no longer nearly as painful as it was when I did it; the knowledge to save his life so much more refined. All it takes is one person. Adam's family is Sephardi, originally from Morocco. I went to be tested, hoping to save the life of a young man in New Jersey. It would only be years later that he found a match and his life was saved.

Would I do it again? I would. I would for Adam or for anyone else. I wish I could have saved my recipient's life. People tell me that at least I gave him hope. That's what this is all about - register now, please. Give Adam  hope but more importantly, give Adam's children a father for many, many years to come. Give Adam's wife a husband. Give Adam life.

You can be tested (it takes only a minute and isn't painful at all) in any of these places between 10:00 and 22:00 weekdays until for another week (until Sept 28). Beyond these places in Israel, there are many places all over the US (Detroit, Baltimore, Great Neck, Los Angeles, etc.)

Or Akiva -Orot Mall
Eilat – Icemall
Eilat – Mall Hayam
Eilat – Queen Sheba Mall
Efrat – Dekel Mall
Ariel- Maga Or Mall
Ashdod – Lev Ashdod Mall
Ashdod – Big Fashion
Ashquelon- Chutzot Mall
Beer Sheva – Grand Kenyon (Grand Mall)
Bilu Center (in Rehovot)
Bet Shaan- Tzim Center
Bet Shemesh – Big Kenyon
Givat Shmuel – HaGiva
Givatayim- Givatayim Mall
Dimona – Peretz Center Mall
Hertzliyya- Seven Stars Mall (Shivat Kochavim)
Hedera- Lev Hedera Ofer Mall
Holon- Azrieli Holon
Haifa – Grand Kenyon
Haifa – Chutzot Hamifratz
Haifa – Cinemall (formerly Lev Hamifratz)
Haifa – Azrieli
Tiberius – Mul Hakineret Mall
Yavne – Big Center
Jerusalem- hadassa ein Kerem
Jerusalem- Hadar mall
Jerusalem- Malca Mall
Jerusalem- Pisgat Zeev Mall
Jerusalem- Ramot Mall
Kfar Saba – The Green Mall Kfar Saba (Hayeruka)
Karmiel- Lev Mall
Mevaseret Tzion – Harel Mall
Mevaseret Tzion- Mevaseret Mall
Modiin- Azrieli mall
Maale Adumim- Adumim Mall
Maalot Tarshi’ha- Tzim Center Maalot
Nahariyya- Nahariyya Mall
Nes Tziona – Kenyoter Mall
Natzeret Elit- Dodge Center
Netivot – Tzim Center Mall
Natanya – Ir Yamim Mall
Natanya- Sharon Mall
Afula – Ha’Amakim Mall
Arad – Tzim Center
Petah Tikva – Hakenyon Hagadol (the big mall)
Petah Tikva- Sirkin Mall
Katzrin – Lev Mall
Qiryat Bialik- Kiryon Mall
Qiryat Gat – Lev Ha’ir Mall
Qiryat Shmoneh- Shmoneh Mall
Rosh Pina – Galil Center
Rishon Letzion – Chonim Konim (“Park and Buy)
Rishon Letzion- Zahav Mall
Rehovot – Rehovot Mall
Ramat Gan – Marom Neve
Ramat Gan – Ayalon Mall
Sderot – 7 Mall
Tel Aviv – Dizengoff Center
Tel Aviv – Azrieli Mall
Tel Aviv – Ramat Aviv Mall

You can learn more here: 

1 comment:

Svietka סביטקה ריביליס said...

there is something about yo writing that ALWAYS, without fail, makes me very emotional. U r the only other writer after Zahava that touches me so. Ye, i dropped a tear on this one.

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