GLENDALE–Over the last two months the Armenian Bone Marrow Donor Registry has solidified its operations through several key international initiatives.
After several rounds of negotiations, a final agreement was signed on November 28th between the Yerevan Blood Institute and the ABMDR, allocating the institute’s 3rd floor building space to the ABMDR for the establishment and operation of a stem cell harvesting center. As the only center of its kind in the region, the Center will bring the life-saving procedure of stem cell transplantation within the reach of many more patients, and will play a vital role in the treatment of other diseases as well, such as many cancers, diabetes, and heart ailmen’s.
In order to open the center, the 300 square meter space requires remodeling. The well-known architectural firm of Vazgen Boghossian is overseeing the project, targeted to be completed in the spring.
Total cost of establishing the Center is estimated to be $850,000. The ABMDR has raised $200,000 towards the project; the additional $650,000 needed are being sought from members of the Armenian community throughout the Diaspora.
The Stem Cell Harvesting Center is a Pan Armenian project that will benefit Armenia’s throughout the world. Like the Registry itself, the Center will be internationally accredited, opening new doors for global collaborations in medicine and scientific research. It is the hope of the ABMDR that the success of the Stem Cell Harvesting Center will inspire the Health Ministry to support the establishment of the ABMDR’s next major project: a transplant center in Armenia.
In the United States, the ABMDR recently forged a key partnership with the National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP). The ABMDR has been approved by the NMDP to become a Cooperative Registry. Following final approval by the U.S. State Department, the ABMDR will have access to donor data among many registries, enhancing the opportunities for successful transplants worldwide.
The ABMDR takes advantage of every opportunity to build relationships with Armenia’s throughout the world. In November, ABMDR President Dr. Jordan was invited to deliver the Second Annual Hagopian Memorial Lecture at the Armenian Medical Association meeting In London. Over 70 AMA members and guests attended her lecture on the ABMDR, including representatives and medical professionals from the National Blood Transfusion and Bone Marrow Transplant Services, the Anthony Nolan Bone Marrow Trust, the African Leukaemia Trust, and oncologists from various National Health Service hospitals. Also present were His Excellency Dr.Vahe Gabrielian, the Armenian Ambassador to the UK, and Mrs.Hagopian, the widow of Dr.Hagopian.
At a gathering at the Armenian Community Center in Sofia, Bulgaria in December organized by the Armenian Council General of the Republic of Armenia, ABMDR Executive Director Dr. Sevak Avagyan, Frieda Jordan and Nani Oskanian gave a presentation on the ABMDR, followed by a donor recruitment drive which resulted in many young people joining the Registry. Prior to these events, Drs. Avagyan and Jordan attended the Regional European Federation of Immunogenetics Conference, where new collaborations were established with the Bulgarian and Romanian registries: the ABMDR will serve as a resource to these small, developing registries, while also learning from these countries about their transplant centers, which the ABMDR does not currently have.
The activities of the ABMDR would not be possible without the funds to support them. This fall key volunteers put on two successful fundraising events in the Los Angeles area. In October, 200 people gathered at the Gardens of the World in Thousand Oaks for the second annual tea hosted by Naz Atikian to benefit the ABMDR. In November, the 5th Annual Laughter for Life event drew over 300 to the famous Comedy Store on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood. Lara Yeretsian was the lead volunteer organizer for the event, which was emceed by Sam Tripoli, a nationally recognized comedian who was the propelling force behind having the benefit at the Comedy Store initially. Sam’s thirteen-year old cousin, Alique Topalian, was struck with leukemia ten years ago. Helping organize this benefit by arranging a line-up of comedians who perform at the Comedy Store was his way of showing appreciation for the ABMDR, which was established out of frustrations his family and Dr. Jordan experienced when they were seeking bone marrow for his cousin to save her life.
Those who wish to learn more about the Registry may contact ABMDR President Dr. Frieda Jordan at 3111 Los Feliz Blvd., Suite 206, Los Angeles, CA; by calling (323) 663-3609; or e-mailing [email protected] or [email protected] . The website for the Registry is www.abmdr.am .