Friday, June 24, 2005

The Gift of Life

In 3.5 weeks (24 days, according to, I am getting married and I have a somewhat strange idea for wedding gifts to request from our wedding guests.

Bryan and I will be hosting a bone marrow drive at our wedding. We are asking all of our guests, who are between the ages of 18-55, in decent health and not already entered into the registry of potential bone marrow donors, to consider allowing the 2 best phlebotomists (people who take blood from your arm) at Hadassah Ein Karem to draw 5 ml (a tablespoon) of blood from their arms at some point during the smorgasbord or during pictures.

This cause is really important to us. Firstly, my little sister donated her marrow to a woman she matched for several years ago and saved the woman's life. Hopefully my sister's recipient, a woman alive today only because my sister was selfless enough to enter herself in the registry and willing to donate her bone marrow, will be at our wedding as well.

Secondly, I mentioned in passing that when I started dating Bryan, I also went out with another gentleman as well. For reasons I won't go into now, after our second date, I accepted a date with another man, whom I went out with and liked. I also liked Bryan, however, and was in a bit of a quandary as to which one to move forward with. I went out with Bryan a third time. A few minutes before our 3rd date, Bryan received a call from the folks at Gift of Life, telling him he was a likely bone marrow match for a 21 year old leukemia patient, and asking whether he'd be willing to come down to Hadassah Hospital for further testing.

On our previous date, Bryan had mentioned how bad he was with blood and needles and how he couldn't donate blood because he passed out whenever he even got near the room where they were accepting blood. So I was quite impressed when he told me that without hesitation he had booked an appointment to come in for more blood testing. I decided I absolutely HAD to continue with Bryan, since he seemed like a pretty amazing and selfless guy. And here we are getting married...Obviously this was in God's plan and all, but who knows what would have happened if Bryan hadn't gotten the call at that critical juncture, and I had decided to continue with guy #2? I feel I owe the bone marrow registry people a bit of hakarat hatov - an acknowledgement of the good they've done for me.

In fact, the day Bryan had planned to propose to me, we got a call asking for him to come in again for further testing. I had no idea that Bry was proposing that evening, and that coming in to give the blood made him run late for all of the things he had to arrange to make the proposal go smoothly. But he did it. And I got to see him faint not once, but twice, after giving a minute amount of blood for testing.

So, given these two personal reasons, we've decided to hold a bone marrow drive at our wedding. Although in America they now do bone marrow drives with a simple cheek swab, in Israel they still do blood samples. We have coordinated it all with the Bone Marrow Registry at Hadassah hospital and have their 2 best blood-takers coming to our wedding, along with the head of the department (who happens to be married to one of my professors - a fact I found out too late to help me after I failed Geriatrics).

So, my question to you is, if something like this was happening at a wedding you've been invited to (and some of my readers are on the guets list), would you be willing to give 5 ml of blood, even at a wedding?

In order to further motivate our guests, I'm going to be the first one to go. I thought I was listed in the registry, since I entered it years ago, but for some reason they couldn't find me so its time for me to go back in. I figure that if some people might be hesitant to give blood wearing fancy wedding attire, if they see the bride doing it in her white wedding dress, they'd be more likely. This should be further proof as to how much I trust the phlebotomists - Rivka and Itzik. I won't even let the rabbi use red wine under our chuppah, but I am allowing blood to be taken!

Anyway, I'd like a wee bit of feedback, since I promised the bone marrow folks I could convince at least 30 people to do it. We have 300 guests (or so) coming, so that's 10%.

Shabbat Shalom


Blogger Fun Joel said...

Awesome! A wonderful plan, in my opinion. I'm already registered, but if I weren't (and if I were attending), I would definitely go to be registered during your wedding. I'd just make sure to do it BEFORE I started drinking! Then again, I don't dress so fancy anyway. ;-)

Shabbat shalom!

6:52 PM  
Blogger Noa said...

Hence we're doing it during the kabbalat panim and before the meal. Also, with such a small amount of blood, you can drink and give it simultaneously! I already checked.

6:55 PM  
Anonymous Debi Robson said...

What a moving idea. I don't know you, and I won't be at the wedding, but I'd be all over this. It's inspirational, truly.

11:27 PM  
Blogger ALG said...

If I was coming to your wedding, and wasn't already listed, I would do it. I can't donate blood because I have bad blood, but have never had a problem doing this! I don't think you should have trouble getting 30 people, unless most people coming to your wedding are already registered. (I think that most people I know are--there were several drives in Boston when I lived there, and more afterwards when a member of the community was looking for a match.)

3:04 AM  
Anonymous Esther said...

I'm amazed that they don't do cheek swabbing in Israel. I do think this is an amazing and generous thing to do, and anyone who doesn't have a medical reason not to should definitely form a line in front of the phlebotomists. Depending on the amount of blood, you may want to remind people to drink a lot of water and not overdo the dancing. But really wonderful to share your special day with people who need your help...

9:18 AM  
Blogger Liza said...

Wow! That's such an amazing, original idea! I'd be willing to bet that a lot of your guests will donate, as the qualities we seek in our friendships often mirror our own traits, and clearly you and Bryan are very special people indeed for wanting to turn your wedding day into an opportunity to help others.

10:56 AM  
Blogger Gilly said...

I will certainly take part - what a wonderful idea.


11:08 AM  
Blogger tafka PP said...

Ditto Gilly. Even though it may mean I faint and don't get to dance around you as much as I might have liked!

Very proud of you hon.

12:05 PM  
Anonymous Sarah said...

I put myself in the registry about 12 years ago. Since I've moved about 13 times since then, and my parents have also moved, I'll be happy to be tested again so I can be sure to be properly registered.

See you in 24 days!

12:34 PM  
Blogger andy said...

Great idea ... good for you. Yes, I'd do it without hesitation (and like your chatan, I hate needles.)

10:12 PM  
Blogger treppenwitz said...

That sounds like fun! I'll wear something off-the-shoulder so they have easy access! :-) I can't speak for Zahava, but I will absolutely do it.

4:28 PM  
Anonymous Essie said...

What a wonderful idea! If I were to be a guest and not already registered, I would definitely do it. My sister was a bone marrow donor and after my family met her recipient I got the test kit the next day.

7:03 PM  
Blogger Ezra said...

If I convince my wife to let us crash (she claims it's totally uncool)then we will totally submit our blood.

10:57 AM  
Blogger Rahel said...

If I were coming, and if I weren't already on the bone marrow registry, I'd do it too. I think it's a wonderful idea. Kol ha-kavod, Noa.

Hadassah contacted me some years ago, asking for another blood sample for more testing because they thought I might be a potential match for someone. Alas, I wasn't.

11:10 AM  
Blogger Noa said...

Wow- I am glad that people are interested in joining the registry! This is great!

Esther...They don't do cheek swabs in Israel for 2 reasons: 1) Its too expensive and 2) its less accurate. I'm not sure which one of the two is the real reason.

Also, people only have to give 5 ml (a tablespoon) in order to be tested. One doesn't need to drink extra (or refrain from alcohol or dancing) for such a small amount.

Gilly, purple parrot, sarah and David...Yay! That's 4 more in the registry!!! I have great friends - and y'all will be getting a email baout this soon. I know you? Do you live here in Jerusalem? if so, email me at and I will invite you and your wife to crash.

7:40 PM  
Blogger Harry said...

Wow. Truly amazing. I would crash as well and enter the registry if I didn't have toxic disease altering medication flowing through my veins. Kol Hakavod and Mazal tov!

4:55 PM  
Anonymous yaffa glass said...

mazal tov I hope you both will blessed with a wonderful life.

What an incredible idea !

I hope you start a new trend of doing 'chesed' whilst celebrating happy occasion.

Please God the idea will be picked up by many. mazal tov again. savta yaffa

7:37 PM  
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1:33 AM  

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