A cancer patient is in need of a transplant. A search takes place and a genetically matching donor is finally found. The donor, the hero of this saga, is then placed in the uncomfortable position of having to spend up to seven hours in a hospital setting as his blood is drawn and the stem cells are removed for the transplant. For years, Ezer Mizion had dreamed of changing that. This dream has now become a reality.
Ezer Mizion’s International Bone Marrow Donor Registry – which currently numbers over 950,000 potential donors and has already saved the lives of more than 3,000 people – inaugurated Ezer Mizion’s Stem Cell Harvesting Center. The inauguration took place in conjunction with Deputy Minister MK Yaakov Litzman and the Health Ministry. For the first time in Israel, a stem cell harvesting center will operate as an independent entity, enabling donors to undergo the stem cell donation process without having to spend half a day in the hospital.
Deputy Minister Yaakov Litzman marked the opening of the Stem Cell Harvesting Center together with Chananya Chollak, Ezer Mizion’s International Chairman; Bracha Zisser, Director of Ezer Mizion’s International Bone Marrow Donor Registry; and Professor Yitzchak Yaniv, Medical Director of the Registry. In the course of a tour of the Center, they met Shaked Avitan, who was in the midst of a stem cell donation process. Avitan told them: “The minute they call, you say ‘yes.’ When someone needs you and you can save a life, you don’t think twice.”
“The donor is the critical and primary asset in the stem cell donation process. Advanced registries around the world, including Ezer Mizion, realized that a special environment must be created to enable him to carry out the donation comfortably, and not in a hospital ward,” says the Registry director. “We are proud that this Center is one of the first in the world, along with a number of European countries leading in the stem cell donation field, to transfer the stem cell harvesting process from the hospital to their own specialized clinic.”
Also, until now, the Registry’s support staff, which walks the donor through the entire length of the donation process, was not present with the donor in the hospital for the procedure, which can take up to 7 hours. In Ezer Mizion’s new Center, the process has been dramatically shortened and the Registry staff is at the donor’s side the entire time. In addition, harvesting can be done from 3 donors at a time, and this can later be expanded up to 6 donors a day, reaching more than 100 donors a month.
The Harvesting Center was built with forethought and planning, on the basis of models abroad. “I congratulate you on the establishment of the Center. Ezer Mizion has made an important stride by erecting this impressive Center, where people can donate stem cells and save lives,” said Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman. “Ezer Mizion has proven itself throughout the years as a lifesaving organization, and the 950,000 potential donors listed in the Registry attest to that,” he added.
“The exclusive role of the staff here is to care for the stem cell donors and everything takes place under one roof. This makes the whole process very efficient and improves the results of the harvesting,” said Professor Yaniv, Medical Director of the Center. “In addition to caring for the donors, we also collaborate with various entities that research stem cells so as to find ways to improve transplant results.”
A full medical staff operates at the Center, including a doctor, nurses, medical technicians, and a Clinic Director, which operates under supervision of Israel’s Ministry of Health and according to the strict guidelines and regulations of World Marrow Donors Association (WMDA), which guarantee the quality of the stem cells and ensure the highest standards of performance with hopefully optimal results and more lives saved.
Ezer Mizion’s Harvesting Center was graciously dedicated by the Farajun Family of Toronto who have proven their deep caring for people facing health crises and the cause of stem cell transplantation through their intense involvement and support.