LOS ANGELES–When Glendale Memorial Hospital President Catherine Pelley gave her acceptance speech Sunday night for her award as “Woman of the Year” from the Armenian Bone Marrow Donor Registry, the crowd assembled understood the power of her words. Quoting from St. John of God she said, “Do good for yourself by doing good for others.” Most of the over 300 attending the ABMDR’s 6th annual “Match For Life” fundraising gala are committed volunteers and financial supporters of the organization who know how good it feels to help ethnic Armenia’s worldwide find hope for survival from life-threatening blood-related diseases such as leukemia, lymphoma and aplastic anemia.
A key method of treating people with these diseases is through bone marrow/stem cell transplants from a donor. On average, it takes 200 donors to find a precise match for one patient. Each donor’s blood or mouth swab sample is tested to see if there is a genetically suitable match for a patient in need. In order to treat Armenian patients, bone marrow transplants require compatible tissue types that match the genetic makeup of the patient, which is most likely to come from other Armenian donors. Currently the ABMDR has identified 854 patients in need, and from its registry of 14,000 donors has found 695 matches and facilitated 7 transplantations around the globe.
Recruiting donors in Armenia and throughout the diaspora takes time and resources from many people and organizations. At the gala event, presided by Master of Ceremony Mark Geragos, Chair of the ABMDR board of directors, several key supporters were recognized for their contributions: Glendale Memorial Hospital President Catherine Pelley, Woman of the Year, Chief Administrator at St. Joseph medical Center Patrick Petre, Man of the Year; ABMDR board member Michele Seyranian and comedian Sam Tripoli (who coordinates a fundraiser for the organization every year at the Comedy Store), Volunteers of the Year; and Sidon Travel, Business of the Year.
While accepting her award Seyranian, who is the mother of cancer survivor Alique Topalian, announced to the audience the ABMDR’s plans for establishing a Stem Cell Harvesting Center in Armenia, which will be the only center of its kind in the region, and a vital component of the organization’s future success. Total cost of outfitting the Center is over $500,000. “We have a huge challenge ahead of us,” noted ABMDR President Dr. Frieda Jordan, “but we have already raised nearly $100,000, and we are hopeful that those who have the means to help us realize this vision will see the opportunity to make a significant difference ‘s to help save lives for years to come.”
Already the ABMDR’s laboratory in Armenia has transformed the country into an active player in the medical community; last spring it became the first laboratory of its kind in the Commonwealth of Independent States (former Soviet republics) to receive accreditation from the highly respected European Immunogenetics Federation. The ABMDR is a member of the World Marrow Donor Association and Bone Marrow Donors Worldwide, and operates recruitment centers in Los Angeles, Boston, Iran, Lebanon, and Syria.
To learn more about the Registry and “do good for yourself by doing good for others” 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 .