What does Gift of Life Marrow Registry do?
Diagnosed with leukemia in 1991, Jay Feinberg was told he would need a bone marrow transplant to survive, but there was no matching donor for him in the registry.
His loving and persistent family would not take no for an answer, so they organized an international grassroots campaign to find his donor. Over 60,000 people were tested and joined the registry, providing matches for hundreds of other patients — but not Feinberg. As his health was failing, one last hopeful drive was held and the last person tested turned out to be Feinberg’s match. He received a successful transplant, and to pay it forward, founded the Gift of Life Marrow Registry.
Now celebrating its 27th anniversary, Gift of Life has more than 318,000 registered volunteer donors and more than 3,300 lives saved There is so much more to do to help those suffering from blood cancer and other curable diseases like sickle cell.
How does your agency benefit the community?
Gift of Life is dedicated to saving lives of all who need a transplant to save their lives. Founder and CEO Jay Feinberg has made the registry’s home in Palm Beach County. With an eye toward discovery, Feinberg has put the area on the worldwide stage as a place for lifesaving innovation. Gift of Life also serves the Palm Beach County community by adding a first-of-its-kind stem-cell collection center in 2019.
What is your agency’s focus for the future?
Eighty percent of lifesaving donors will be asked to donate stem cells to save a patient suffering from blood cancer. Up until now, these donors have had to travel to a certified stem-cell collection center in large cities, such as New York, Boston or Washington. This spring, Gift of Life will cut the ribbon on its state-of-the art stem-cell collection center. Located in our Boca Raton headquarters, this center will allow local patients to have the ease and convenience of saving a life right in their own backyard. The center also will bring donors from other cities to our community, showcasing all our area has to offer.
Our seven-days-a-week schedule also will allow for working individuals, students and others to not interrupt their day-to-day schedule.
How can the community help?
By partnering with other organizations in Palm Beach County, including the Nurses Corp, the Sickle Cell Foundation, the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and more, we have the chance to increase the registry in hopes of finding all who need their lifesaving match. This sense of a shared mission and partnership is what will help us save more lives — by increasing the number of individuals who learn about the mission and join the registry through a simple cheek swab. The community can help save more lives by logging onto giftoflife.org and ordering a swab kit. If you are between ages 18 to 45 you could be someone’s miracle match! There also are volunteer and sponsorship opportunities and great ways for the community to help fund the stem-cell collection center.