Tal Shitrit was eight years old. Third grade is a time for small boys to learn multiplication tables in the classroom and how to pitch a ball in the schoolyard. But Tal had learned neither of these. Instead he learned about IV’s and scary hospital equipment, about hair falling out and about roommates who ‘disappeared’ never to return. Tal had cancer. The medical staff called his parents in for a meeting. There was only one recourse left: a bone marrow transplant. It would save his life but a genetic match would have to be found soon or… it may be too late. Jews will genetically match other Jews and so Ezer Mizion, the largest Jewish registry in the world, was contacted. Ezer Mizion’s registry of close to 600,000 potential donors is large, but, for Tal, it was not large enough. There was no match.
However, Ezer Mizion didn’t stop there. They arranged a drive. Quickly. The sand was running out. Other registries were contacted by the clinic. Finally a match was found. The staff rejoiced. Song was heard in every Ezer Mizion office. There was joy in the air. The Israel office contacted the New York office and held hands in a virtual dance across cyberspace. A match had been found for Tal! He would celebrate his ninth birthday. He would grow up. And have his own children. Life wouldn’t stop at eight.
But it did. Tal had needed the transplant when the request had been made. The wait, short as it was, was too much. Tal will never turn nine.
With superhuman strength, Tal’s father conveys his message to world Jewry:
Shalom. My name is Ofer Shitrit. My son Tal – of blessed memory – died of cancer a little over one month ago. He was waiting for a bone marrow transplant that could have saved his life.
I am writing to you now, even though it is very hard for me, and in spite of the fact that for my beloved son Tal, it won’t help anymore.
I am writing because perhaps it will help thousands of other children and adults who have cancer or who may, G-d forbid, get cancer in the future. Maybe my words will help save their lives.
Ezer Mizion was at our side throughout our struggle with cancer. They made a tremendous effort to find a matching bone marrow donor to save Tal.
But the chances of finding a donor and doing the transplant on time are low, when there isn’t a readily available donor in the Registry. In our case, it didn’t happen.
The story can end differently for other patients.
But for that – we need everyone to rally to the cause. We need funding to pay for lab testing so that more and more people can join Ezer Mizion’s Bone Marrow Registry