By Michelle Cohen
On Jan. 17, the Jewish Day School of the Lehigh Valley hosted a Gift of Life drive to add volunteers to the bone marrow and stem cell registry in honor of Jolie Feig, the 9-year-old daughter of a former JDS student who needs a stem cell donation.
By the end of the day, more than 80 people had visited the registration booth.
“Over 30 years ago, I went to school with [Jolie’s father] Greg Feig,” said Amy Golding, head of school at JDS. “It was in these halls that we learned about mitzvot and tikkun olam, and it is in these halls that we now come together to help save his beloved daughter.”
For the adult or child diagnosed with blood cancer every four minutes, having a registry to find donations is extremely important. Seventy percent of blood cancer patients do not have a familial match and must find a donor through the registry.
Eighty percent of donors who are matched with recipients through Gift of Life donate stem cells from their blood, while the other 20 percent undergo a procedure to withdraw bone marrow from their hip bones.
The registration process, which takes between five and eight minutes, involves filling out forms and then swabbing the mouth with four long cotton swabs and sealing them in an envelope. In addition to honoring Jolie’s fight and potentially finding a match for her, becoming part of the registry is a lifetime process that enables calls from anyone who needs help. “I signed up 15 years ago and have been called three times,” said Naomi Schachter, a JDS parent who volunteered to man the desk.
Another volunteer, Lisa Moreef, said that “it’s a really good cause. I’m a mother of young children and I would want others to volunteer and donate if, God forbid, it was for my child.”
In addition to serving as a great opportunity for people in the Lehigh Valley to save lives, Golding saw a learning opportunity for JDS students: “We come together as a community for the joyous moments, the sorrows and the challenges. Today is active learning for the next generation of Jewish leaders.”