Mordechai donated stem cells to save a woman with leukemia
Mordechai was just 18 years old when he joined Gift of Life’s bone marrow registry in Dunwoody, Ga. in 2000. Thirteen years later, he learned that he was a potential match for a 38-year-old woman suffering from acute lymphoblastic leukemia. He said, “I found no justifiable reason to give up the opportunity to save a life. God had provided me with this unique opportunity, and I was not going to decline due to minor concerns.”
Once he was confirmed as the best possible match, Mordechai was asked to travel from his home in Beit Shemesh, Israel, to the United States to donate his peripheral blood stem cells. He said, “I was excited to hear the news and felt privileged to have such a unique opportunity.”
Since he was unfamiliar with the donation process, Mordechai took his time considering the potential risks and issues. He discussed his concerns with both medical professionals and experts in Jewish law and concluded that the opportunity to donate was unique and exciting—a chance to make a significant positive change to a person who may not survive without the donation. He said, “Although I realized that there was not an absolute obligation to proceed, the sacrifice was far outweighed by the potential good that could come from proceeding with the donation.”
Mordechai donated his stem cells at Apheresis Associates of Northern Virginia. The donation process, including physical exam and preparation, required him to be away from work and family in Israel for just over three weeks. He gave high praise to Gift of Life for all of the support he received, saying, “From the initial representatives, who discussed the details without pressuring me to proceed, to the medical staff and my work-up coordinator who arranged every detail of my trip, I received superb service and encouragement from Gift of Life. I could not have asked for a more supportive staff.” He added, “My parents, wife, children, and friends also helped make the whole process possible.”
When asked if he considers himself a hero, Mordechai replied, “That title should be applied to everyone who sacrificed to bring the donation to fruition. With no hesitation, my wife encouraged me to go through with it. As parents of four young children, this was a significant challenge for her. In addition, my boss allowed me to be away from the office for over three weeks and trusted that I would effectively and properly supervise my staff from a different time zone. Thank God, everyone lived up to the crucial tasks that were necessary in order to save a life. So, yes, we can all claim a share in the ‘hero’ title.”
Following his donation, Mordechai sent a letter to his recipient, who at this time remains anonymous. He said, “I wrote that while we cannot understand why such difficult situations occur in life, she should be aware that my experience has made a very positive impact on the hundreds (thousands?) of people who heard about my donation, many of whom prayed for her recovery. I added that I have a mother who is, thank God, a long-time cancer survivor. I hope that knowledge gave her the encouragement that she, too, could soon overcome her disease and go on to live a long and productive life.” Mordechai was overjoyed when he recently received word that his recipient is doing well and recovering from the transplant.
Mordechai lives with his wife and four children in Beit Shemesh, Israel. He works as the controller for an Israeli accounting firm that specializes in United States tax.