LOS ANGELES—The Armenian Bone Marrow Donor Registry announced that longtime national philanthropist and ABMDR founding member Dr. Carolann Najarian will receive the organization’s Visionary Award. The honor will be conferred on Dr. Najarian during the award ceremony of ABMDR’s 20th Anniversary Gala, which will be held on August 25 at the Taglyan Complex, at 1201 Vine St, Los Angeles, CA 90038. The Gala will celebrate the 20th anniversary of the founding of ABMDR.
“It is our great privilege to bestow the ABMDR Visionary Award on Dr. Carolann Najarian, as she remains a true pillar of our organization,” stated ABMDR President, Dr. Frieda Jordan. “From the very outset, 20 years ago, Dr. Najarian understood the critical importance of having a registry of bone marrow donors for the Armenian people, and was absolutely instrumental in the establishment and subsequent growth of our organization.”
Born in New York City, Dr. Najarian was raised in a large Armenian family, most of whom, including her parents, were genocide survivors. Carolann moved to Boston after marrying George Najarian. She holds an MD as well as degrees in music and medical anthropology.
In 1989, after the Spitak earthquake, Dr. Najarian founded the Armenian Health Alliance and began relief efforts to both the earthquake zone and Artsakh. Over the next 20 years, she made more than 50 trips to provide support to various medical centers in the earthquake zone and in Artsakh, securing them with much needed medical supplies, providing care to patients, and teaching. She also helped facilitate assistance to Armenian refugees from Azerbaijan. In 1992, she started the Sister to Sister program, through which financial assistance was provided to refugees from Gatashen who were living in various hostels in the mountains of Armenia. In 1994, she established a primary-care center in Gyumri; and, in 1995, the Arpen Center for Expectant Women in Artsakh, which continues to provide food and clothing to pregnant women.
Dr. Najarian has chronicled these experiences in her first book, “A Call From Home: Armenia and Karabagh, My Journal.” She then published her late father’s memoir, “Avedis’ Story.” Most recently, she and her husband sponsored and collaborated on a book about the Armenian Legionnaires, inspired by George’s father. The Najarians supported the renovation of Tsitsernavank, a 5th-century basilica in Artsakh. They also endow the Najarian Lecture on Human Rights, a program of the Armenian Heritage Park, Boston, home of the Najarian clan.
Carolann first met Dr. Frieda Jordan in 1989 and helped her distribute earthquake relief aid she had brought from London. The two forged a friendship, and a year later Dr. Jordan brought up her idea of establishing an Armenian bone marrow donor registry to Carolann and her husband George. They supported the idea enthusiastically and encouraged Dr. Jordan to go forward. The Najarians provided seed money for ABMDR, and Carolann agreed to have ABMDR work under the umbrella of the Armenian Health Alliance.
Dr. Najarian is a founding member of ABMDR, instrumental in helping navigate the early days of the organization, actively involved in the opening of the ABMDR lab in Yerevan, a mentor and adviser to Dr. Jordan, member of the Board of Directors, and the first Woman of the Year recognized by ABMDR, in 2003. The Najarians continued their substantial financial support of the Registry and the establishment of its Stem Cell Harvesting Center, in Yerevan.
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 30,000 donors in 31 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.