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Orlando, FL - Hoping To Make Life-Saving Matches, Bone Marrow Drives To Be Held At Pesach Hotels Coast To Coast

Published on: March 29, 2018 11:30 AM
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Orlando, FL - While there are those who view spending Pesach at a hotel as a prime example of conspicuous consumption, a Rhode Island man is seizing the opportunity to engage guests in a mitzvah with life-saving potential.

Matnas Chaim works in conjunction with the Gift of Life Registry and will be holding bone marrow drives at 35 Pesach hotels throughout the United States during Chol Hamoed to help cure patients with leukemia and blood-related cancers.

Providence resident Yosef Weiner will be running bone marrow drives at 35 Pesach hotels throughout the United States and at seven villa communities in Orlando over Chol Hamoed to help cure patients with leukemia and blood-related cancers. 

Weiner, who is working in conjunction with Matnas Chaim and the Gift of Life Registry, said that volunteers at Pesach programs in Arizona, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, California, Florida, New York, Virginia and Maryland will show guests how to do a simple cheek swab which is then analyzed to determine if they can be a suitable match for someone in need.

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“People will be in one place for an entire week, with most hotels averaging 800 guests and another 30,000 Jews going down to Orlando,” Weiner told VIN News.  “Our plan is to get as many people swabbed as possible.”

The idea for Matnas Chaim came about when a friend told Weiner that his nephew was in desperate need of a bone marrow transplant to cure a highly unusual form of cancer.

“It was only the 70th case of that type of cancer reported since 1990 and he was at the National Institute of Health because his cancer was so rare,” Weiner told VIN News.  “No one in the family was a suitable blood donor and my friend was desperate to find someone who would be a match.”

Putting his business background to good use, Weiner created Matnas Chaim which focused on signing up potential donors in the Orthodox and Chasidic communities, targeting yeshivos and synagogues throughout the United States and Israel in the hopes of finding a suitable match.

According to Weiner, 60 to 70 percent of those in need of a bone marrow transplant find suitable donors within their own families, with matches made from non-relatives typically coming from people of similar backgrounds, making Jews the most suitable bone marrow donors for their brethren.

“To me, it was about understanding where the business was instead of trying to bring the business to me,” said Weiner.  “I wasn’t going to chase people to get this done, I was going to go directly to them and the yeshiva system offered me that opportunity.”

Among the many yeshivos that ran bone marrow drives this past fall were the Mir, Brisk, Yeshivat Hakotel, Harav Shalom Schechter and Toras Moshe in Israel, and Ner Israel, Bais Medrash Govoha, Chaim Berlin, Chofetz Chaim, Yeshiva University, the Mir and Torah Vodaath in the United States, with additional drives held at synagogues and through community organizations.

“We did Selichos night with Yehuda Green in the city and Ohr Naava events all over,” said Weiner.  “We have done drives that brought together Chasidim, Ashkenazim, Sefardim, Litvish and Modern Orthodox people.  The people at the Gift of Live told me that in their history they have never seen anything like it. It is amazing to see the Jewish community coming together for this.”

To date, Matnas Chaim has run more than 12,600 bone marrow drives and saved 50 lives, including that of Weiner’s friend’s nephew.  While the goal of the Chol Hamoed bone marrow is to find a bone marrow donor for an individual identified only as Yossi, Weiner is hopeful that Matnas Chaim’s efforts will have lifesaving results for others as well.

“The opportunistic yield here is unreal,” said Weiner. “We could easily put another 20,000 people into the bone marrow registry. If in five months we were able to save 50 people, imagine how much more we can do here.”

To find a Chol Hamoed bone marrow drive near you visit Matnas Chaim online at https://www.matnaschaim.org/events/ 



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