Armenian woman donates stem cells to save life of cancer patient in Israel

Asbarez – Seven years ago, when Maria, a Yerevan resident, became a bone marrow stem cell donor with the Armenian Bone Marrow Donor Registry (ABMDR), she had no clue that someday she would actually be able to help save someone’s life. That opportunity presented itself on March 9.

After Hadassah Medical Center’s Bone Marrow Transplant Department, in Jerusalem, contacted ABMDR for a matched-donor request, Maria, 36, was identified as a match for a cancer patient in Israel. As further tests confirmed Maria as a perfect match, Hadassah requested from ABMDR that her stem cells be harvested for a bone marrow transplant that could save the life of the Israeli patient.

Maria’s stem cells were harvested at ABMDR’s Stem Cell Harvesting Center, in the Armenian capital. Once the painless, non-invasive harvesting procedure, performed by Dr. Andranik Mshetsyan, was completed, the donated stem cells were flown to Israel through a special courier. Maria has been an ABMDR bone marrow stem cell donor since 2009. She is a nurse and the mother of two children: Alex, 15; and Knarik, 18 months old.

Present at Maria’s harvesting procedure were ABMDR Executive Director Dr. Sevak Avagyan and Medical Director Dr. Mihran Nazaretyan, as well as Dr. Bella Kocharian, former First Lady of Armenia. Dr. Kocharian became ABMDR’s very first registered bone marrow donor when the organization was established in 1999, and has served as its Honorary Chair ever since.

“We Armenians are a Mediterranean people, and, as such, share our genes with peoples throughout the region, whether they be Jews, Greeks, Italians, or Ethiopians,” Dr. Avagyan said. “Today we are absolutely delighted that the life of a patient in Israel is poised to be saved through an Armenian bone marrow donor. Nothing can be more gratifying!”

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