Friday, July 23, 2010

The Best Birthday Gift: Will You Help?

My 26th birthday is coming – on August 5th, to be exact. I’ve always been the kind of vain person who implicitly demands a birthday week full of activities, including but not limited to: happy hour, dinner, brunch, bar. The celebration possibilities are endless, especially as I near the dreaded "late 20s" & need increasingly more moral support. I’ll probably celebrate as usual this year, but there’s really only one thing I want for my birthday – and no matter who you are or where you live, you can make it happen.

My good friend Elissa has an aggressive form of cancer. For the third time. She learned it was back the same week that she learned she’d been accepted to rabbinical school – a dream interrupted by a nightmare. But if you didn’t know she had cancer, you’d never guess. Elissa is one of the most upbeat, positive people I know, always ready with a joke or a laugh or advice. She’s also the only person who wanted to see “Twilight” with me, which gives her extra points… or fewer, I guess, depending on your views of vampires.

Elissa needs a bone marrow transplant, & by joining the National Bone Marrow Registry, you can help her find one. A simple (painless!) cheek swab will determine whether you’re a match for Elissa or someone else in need of a transplant. Of course, there are a few caveats: Donors must be between 18 and 60 and in good health. But beyond that, it’s vital that the search for a bone marrow donor spread far and wide – the more people who register, the better her chances of finding a match.

On to the details for DC-area folks: My friends have organized a bone marrow registry drive on my birthday, Thursday, August 5, from 5:00 pm to 7:30 pm at the DC Jewish Community Center (1529 16th Street, NW, Washington DC). Stop by, get swabbed, & be on your merry way. For more information, please contact Allison ( or Debra (

Not in DC? You can – and should – still register. Here’s how:

  • Find a registry drive near you. and both list upcoming drives where you can register for free in very state from Maine to California – and even Israel.

  • Can’t find a nearby drive? Organize one of your own! Learn more.

  • It costs some scrills to have a swab kit mailed to your home, but the fee is tax-deductible. Visit or for more info.

  • I don’t know how many pregnant readers I’ve got out there, but if you’re with child, consider donating your baby’s umbilical cord to a public cord blood bank to help someone with a life-threatening disease. Just by being born, your baby can save a life – what a way to start out, huh?

I can’t think of any better birthday gift than a bone marrow transplant for Elissa. Make it happen, will ya?

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