Miracle in the Making

How much is your life worth to you? Is it worth $54? What about the life of any of your closest friends or your family members?

$54 is the cost of getting one person entered into the National Bone Marrow Registry via Gift of Life.  $54 is the cost of getting one person’s cheek swab processed.  $54 to get listed as the potential life saver for another person.

While when one person reaches out directly to be swabbed, they cover the cost of their own test, when they do big drives, it is a different story financially.  This phenomenal organization is doing amazing work reaching out to get more people registered, but they simply can’t get them all processed and into the database where they can be matched up to patients in need.  (See the video below for more information.)

I wrote in-depth about why I love Gift of Life back in October of 2010 when Jay Feinberg was one of the nominees for JFNA’s Jewish Hero of the Year competition (BTW – He won). Go read that post and then come back to see why I’m bringing it up again now.

— I’m waiting.  — Back? — Good. — Let us continue.

I have since become friends with someone who was the recipient of an anonymous bone marrow donation.  While having met Jay and working with the recipients, its been a unique experience to really get to know someone who went through the process and is in the place of reflection upon it all.  Almost anytime I say “How are you today?” she says cheerfully “I’m just so great, I couldn’t imagine being any better” or some other variation with the same theme.  This woman knows that she has received the gift of life, and cherishes it.  She shared about the letter she just recently received from her donor, in which she could tell that this stranger knew they had given this same gift of life and their life had been just as profoundly impacted as hers was – albeit in a less physical way.  It is a real life example of why this really matters, and how much one swab and one small donation can miraculously impact another human’s life.

This year, Mayim Bialik, The Maccabeats, and Matisyahu have all joined me in championing for Gift of Life and are working to raise $80,000 this Chanukah.  For those of you who are not so quick with math, thats $10,000 per night of a holiday which is all about celebrating miracles.

Mayim Bialik gives her own explanation about why you should join the campaign…

Just in case you live on the moon, here is the Maccabeats video for this year and this campaign, covering Matisyahu’s Miracle

It’s rare that I do this, but I am asking each and every one of you to take a moment to join me, Mayim, The Maccabeats, and Matisyahu in supporting the Miracle Match, I know it is cliche, but seriously – every dollar counts and every dollar gives you the potential to be a part of a true miracle this Chanukah.

(And if helping save a life isn’t incentive enough for you this year, there are lots of cool gifts for various giving levels as well as some grand prizes.)

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the ultimate gift: life

Jewish tradition teaches us that to save one person’s life is as if we have saved the entire world.  This is something which has always motivated me, and has shaped my life at a few points in a few key ways.

Post by Melissa

One such way was learning about the organization “Gift of Life” when I was in graduate school.

As a very active Hillel-ite I had the opportunity to attend a few conferences during graduate school.  At one of these conferences I had the pleasure of hearing transplant donors and recipients speak about their experience with Gift of Life, and was profoundly moved.  I decided that I would register as a donor with them and do whatever I could to help spread the message.  Shortly thereafter, some of peers who had been similarly moved hosted a drive on campus to get people to join the regstry.  Sadly, I was unable to participate at that time due to health problems – but I volunteered, made a donation, and pledged to join the registry as soon as I was able.  Last spring I was finally able to join the bone marrow registry through Gift of Life and I couldn’t  imagine a more fulfilling use of 5 minutes of my day.

I also had the opportunity to an internship with bone marrow and stem cell transplant recipients.  I got to see the hardships faced by the difficulty of finding a match and the relief at finally being able to go through the process.  That renewal is like no other.

Over the years when my friends have asked for causes to donate to for various reasons, Gift of Life has often been the first one that comes to mind.  I am also currently looking into hosting drives, bringing walks, and generally being an ambassador for this phenomenal organization which embodies so much of what Judaism is about at the core – saving the future of the Jewish people in any way possible.

Jay Fineberg, the creator of Gift ofLife (and a transplant recipient himself) is currently one of the leaders in the public voting portion of  the Jewish Community Heroes Award. I have been voting for him daily, and encourage you to at least vote once. That may be the easiest thing you ever do to help save someone’s life.  If Jay wins the $25,000 grand prize, it will pay for the testing and entry of over 450 people into the bone marrow donor data base.

If you are 18-60, in general good health, and not already a registered bone marrow donor (with any organization) click here to see if you may be able to register through Gift of Life.  With more than 6000 people waiting for their match, you can make a difference.