Bone marrow registry at Day of Service

Bone marrow registry, April 2011

By Marshall Weiss, The Dayton Jewish Observer

Cantor Joyce Dumtschin

About eight years ago, Cantor Joyce Dumtschin of Temple Beth Or was at a conference for Jewish educators, listening to a presentation from the Gift of Life Bone Marrow Foundation, North America’s Jewish bone marrow donor registry and cord blood bank. The founder of Gift of Life, Jay Feinberg, introduced the man who saved his life through a bone marrow transplant.

“They had an auditorium of people and they all went wild,” Dumtschin recalls. “And they followed it up with this bone marrow registration drive and I registered for it.”

In 2009, Dumtschin was diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome, a form of cancer in which bone marrow doesn’t make enough healthy blood cells. Myelodysplastic syndrome causes infections, anemia and easy bleeding.

“There are about 11,000 cases per year in the United States,” she says. “Eventually, I may need blood transfusions but that’s not there quite yet.”

She says the oral chemotherapy she takes daily reduces transfusion dependence. “They want to put that off as long as possible.”

The hematologist who diagnosed her at The Ohio State University James Cancer Hospital said that although it is a long way off, she may need a bone marrow transplant.

This led her to bring the Gift of Life Bone Marrow Foundation registry to the April 10 Community-wide Day of Service.

“I was thinking it would be nice to use this opportunity to do something, to raise awareness,” Dumtschin says. “Because your basic tissue type is inherited, you’re more likely to find a match among your own ethnicity.”

Gift of Life is connected to national and international registries and takes all registrants who meet age and health requirements, Dumtschin says.

“We have so many interfaith families, I don’t want people to think, ‘I’m not Jewish biologically, so why should I do this?’”

A day after the Gift of Life registry event in Dayton, Chabad’s Rabbi Nochum Mangel is scheduled to fly to Baltimore to have his blood cells harvested through apheresis for a 65-year-old patient.

Mangel joined the Gift of Life registry in November 2009.

“I was in New York for our international conference and Gift of Life set up a table,” he says. “There was one of the recipients whose life was saved through a donation, asking people to please sign up. So I signed up and six months later, before the summer, I got a call that I was a match.”

A local doctor will administer shots to Mangel for five days before his scheduled donation, to accelerate his blood cell growth.

Ten years ago, Marilyn Klaben donated bone marrow at Miami Valley Hospital. The marrow was flown to aid a woman who lived in Germany. Klaben had registered a few years before through a general bone marrow registry held at Beth Jacob Synagogue when former U.S. Rep. Tony Hall’s son, Matt, was sick with leukemia.

“I got to speak with her daughter and she did live three additional years because of the bone marrow I gave her,” Klaben says. A year after the donation, donors and recipients are able to make contact if both agree.

Dumtschin says those who are unable to register are encouraged to consider donating funds to Gift of Life.

In March, Mangel went to Baltimore for a preliminary physical and to meet the patient’s doctors.

“In the hospital, there was an African-American woman who coordinated this and she said it’s a shame that it doesn’t exist in her community or the Latino community,” he says. “Statistically, you’re probably helping a Jew but it doesn’t make any difference. But if we don’t do this, the possibility of Jews finding donors is much less.

“You’re saving a life. This is what the Talmud says: if you save one life, it’s as if you saved the entire world. It’s not theory anymore. This is tikun olam (repairing the world). Here you have it.”

The Gift of Life Bone Marrow Foundation will hold a bone marrow registry at the Community-wide Day of Service on Sunday, April 10 from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Temple Beth Or. For more information, contact Cantor Joyce Dumtschin at 435-3400 or go to

Previous post

‘Everyone has the power to give’

Next post

'Light with joy and gladness and honor'