Over 400 Supporters Register as Potential Bone Marrow Stem Cell Donors
LOS ANGELES— In a grassroots effort to help save the life of a leukemia patient, the Armenian Bone Marrow Donor Registry held a series of recruitment drives in Michigan and California.
The patient, Rafee Alsaeegh, is a 45-year-old resident of Los Angeles. Since his illness is life-threatening, he urgently needs a bone marrow stem cell transplant, which would only be possible if he is matched with a bone marrow stem cell donor. Rafee is of Armenian and Iraqi-Chaldean descent. Given the genetic similarities of Armenians and Chaldeans, and therefore the strong likelihood of finding a donor match from either community, ABMDR recruited potential donors from both.
After meeting with Rafee’s family, and upon their request, ABMDR held an informational recruitment drive with the Chaldean community of Detroit on January 18. Organized by the patient’s family, the recruitment took place at the Regency Manor in Southfield, Michigan. The daylong recruitment was conducted by Dr. Frieda Jordan, President of ABMDR, and Fimi Mekhitarian, the Registry’s West Coast Recruitment Officer. As Dr. Jordan informed the large audience of supporters, becoming a bone marrow stem cell donor is a simple, safe, and painless process, and has the potential of helping save the life of a patient such as Rafee, or any of the number of patients currently waiting for a donor match.
On January 19, a second recruitment was held in the hall of St. John Armenian Church of Greater Detroit, in Southfield, with the purpose of recruiting donors from the local Armenian community. For this event, Dr. Jordan and Mekhitarian were joined by the Very Rev. Aren Jebejian, Pastor of St. John Armenian Church, and ABMDR’s East Coast recruitment team, headed by East Coast Recruitment Officer Maral Der Torossian. In his remarks during the event, Fr. Jebejian introduced ABMDR’s life-saving mission and urged attendees to support the organization by signing up as donors and volunteers. Also addressing the audience was Dr. Jordan, who spoke about ABMDR’s outreach activities worldwide and its goal of continually expanding its registry of donors. Following a Q&A session, many supporters joined the ranks of ABMDR as potential bone marrow stem cell donors.
The recruitment effort continued on January 20, with a major event at the Auditorium of Adventist Health Glendale, in Glendale, California. Facilitated by Ramella Markarian, ABMDR Board member and Business Development Executive with Adventist Health Glendale, the event saw an extraordinary outpouring of support from the Armenian community of Los Angeles. Within three hours, more than 300 donors were recruited. The event proved all the more special for attendees when patient Rafee himself dropped by to personally thank them.
In all, over 400 potential donors joined ABMDR during the recruitment events in Michigan and California.
“We are deeply touched and impressed by the overwhelmingly-positive response of the Chaldean-American and Armenian-American communities,” remarked Dr. Frieda Jordan. “The marvelous spirit of giving which we witnessed in Detroit and Glendale is what ABMDR’s life-saving mission is all about, and we hope with all our hearts to find a donor match for Rafee. I would like to thank Rafee’s gracious wife, Arsineh Sarkissian, and their family; the Very Rev. Fr. Aren Jebejian; our highly-dedicated West Coast and East Coast recruitment teams; as well as Ramella Markarian, for all of their hard work in ensuring the success of our latest recruitment events,” she concluded.
Established in 1999, ABMDR, a nonprofit organization, helps Armenians and non-Armenians worldwide survive life-threatening blood-related illnesses by recruiting and matching donors to those requiring bone marrow stem cell transplants. To date, the registry has recruited over 31,000 donors in 33 countries across four continents, identified over 9,000 patients, and facilitated 33 bone marrow transplants. For more information, call 323.663.3609 or visit the website.