As we celebrate the Festival of Lights, take a moment to recognize the Gift of Life with #SwabSameach
Approximately every three minutes someone in the U.S. is diagnosed with a blood cancer. For many, the best chance of survival is through a bone marrow or stem cell transplant from a donor of a similar race or ethnicity. The Gift of Life Marrow Registry, a non-profit organization, is launching a campaign this Chanukah to raise awareness that saving a life begins with one remarkable person and one life-changing swab of your cheek.
The organization started 27 years ago when Jay Feinberg, CEO of Gift of Life, was diagnosed with leukemia. He was told by his doctors that he would need to find a donor who had a similar ethnic background in order to have a chance at survival. However, the worldwide donor registry was severely low on Ashkenazi Jews, Jay’s own ethnicity. His family and friends didn’t want to see him die needlessly, so they launched an ambitious grassroots donor recruitment campaign, resulting in the enrollment of tens of thousands of new donors in the worldwide bone marrow registry. His life-saving match was found, and the Gift of Life Marrow Registry was born. The organization has changed the odds for Jewish blood cancer patients, increasing the chance of finding a life-saving donor from 5 percent to approximately 82 percent today, and Gift of Life hopes to replicate the success they have seen with other underrepresented ethnic groups.
To get the important message out about bone marrow donations, Gift of Life is kicking off the #SwabSameach campaign featuring Vanessa Bayer of Saturday Night Live (SNL) fame. The campaign encourages people to wish their friends and family “Swab Sameach” instead of “Chag Sameach” (Happy Holiday) by creating a special menorah and sharing it on their social channels. People can head to www.giftoflife.org/hanukkah to spread the word. The campaign officially launches on Friday, November 30th.