Friday, June 9, 1995 | return to: national


After 4 years, marrow donor found for leukemia victim

by NEW YORK (JTA) -- After four years of anxious waiting and massive bone marrow drives in the international Jewish community, an a, In a voice-mail message announcing the discovery of the "miracle match," Feinberg's mother, Arlene, joyously says that "after fo

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Her voice also seems to acknowledge that the road ahead may still present difficulties for Feinberg, as bone marrow transplants are regarded as a risky proposition in the medical world.

Feinberg's turbulent journey to locate a donor began in 1991, when in the wake of his leukemia diagnosis, Feinberg's family, along with a group of concerned friends and strangers, banded together to form the "Gift of Life Foundation," more commonly known as "Friends of Jay Feinberg."

Dedicated to "bone marrow donor recruitment," the group set out to organize and sponsor bone marrow transplant drives to locate donors for victims of leukemia and other blood-related diseases.

Community response to the efforts exceeded expectations. Emotional and financial support poured in from around the world.

In its first four years, the foundation brought out 50,000 volunteers at college campuses, synagogues and schools, in countries from the United States and Canada to Israel and Russia.

Many wanted to contribute more than just their blood samples, and the group soon headed an international campaign to save Feinberg's life, even publishing several glossy newsletters.

The search found support among prominent media personalities and public figures. Jay Feinberg, who lives near West Orange, N.J., appeared on the Sally Jesse Raphael show and met with Vice President Al Gore.

But as the years wore on, Feinberg's prospects of finding a donor appeared bleak.

Donors for other patients were located, but the man who had saved numerous lives by becoming the poster boy for donor recruitment was without a donor himself.

That sad reality has now changed.

Still, the foundation stressed that the finding of Feinberg's match would not mean the end of its invaluable work. Instead, those involved said in a statement they would "continue the campaign to raise funds and organize donor drives for the benefit of many others desperately in need."

The hourlong transplant is scheduled to take place at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in late June or early July in Seattle.

The match, a young American female, has not yet been identified. According to the foundation, she has yet to decide whether she will reveal herself after the transplant.


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