Rabbi Yitzi Genack knows the importance of a bone marrow transplant.
Genack, the rabbi of Congregation Shaare Torah, donated bone marrow approximately 12 years ago.
“It was very, very exciting,” he said. “An unbelievable opportunity.”
It’s relatively easy, he said, and he encourages others to step up if they can.
“You’ll go to the hospital for one day, you’ll watch three movies, and they’ll send you home,” Genack said.
Bikur Cholim of Pittsburgh and Gift of Life will give Pittsburghers the chance to be a donor by signing up for the bone marrow registry on Nov. 5 at the Squirrel Hill JCC’s Palm Court between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Genack, who registered to become a donor when he was 18, wasn’t called to donate until he was 29. The wait isn’t uncommon.
“It takes that long to find a match,” he said.
The transplants are used to treat several diseases including leukemias, severe aplastic anemia, lymphomas, multiple myeloma, immune deficiency disorders and some solid-tumor cancers.
Registration requires a cheek swab. Later, if you are a potential match, you will be asked to donate blood and have a physical exam. The organization is most interested in those between the ages of 18 and 35. Donors between the ages of 36 and 60 can still join the registry but will need to cover the $60 cost for the test.
Rebecca Gruener, subcommittee chair of the drive, said she realizes that local community members are focused on the war in Israel, but that people shouldn’t push off joining the registry, noting there’s a concept in Judaism of not delaying a mitzvah.
“This is an opportunity to potentially save someone’s life,” she said. “You never know if someone at a bone marrow drive will be a match for someone who may not be well enough to wait if the drive were moved. At a time when the Jewish nation has been afflicted with such darkness, it is important to seize the moment to shine a light with mitzvahs as soon as the opportunity presents itself.”
No pre-registration is required. More information about joining the registry can be found at giftoflife.org. PJC