How is Ezer Mizion’s Bone Marrow Registry managing? Corona created formidable obstacles. 60% of stem cells are normally transported by courier for life-saving transplants to countries outside of Israel. At first, foreign couriers who do not have an Israeli passport were denied entry into Israel. Israeli couriers were forced to wait a two week isolation period following their return into Israel.
We kept on working on solutions for the rapidly changing regulations. First we had foreign couriers waiting at the airport and not entering the country. This worked for one week until it was disqualified by the Ministry of Health.
Officials from the National Security Council who understood the importance of the matter were involved and – together with the Airport Authority – arranged another solution of couriers waiting in an isolated area in Terminal 1, which worked for two and a half weeks.
A solution was found using a courier to Turkey and then an emissary to England and from there on to the final destination. Then, passenger flights departing from Israel were totally cancelled.
This was a major new challenge since international protocol permits transport of stem cells only via a personal courier. That was our new obstacle: how do we send stem cells abroad if there are no flights at all? Patients’ lives are depending on this!
Miraculously and with tremendous efforts, a solution that was found with cargo flights. A company was found that agreed to allow the courier on board on their cargo flights. Not very comfortable for the courier but they rose to the occasion knowing what is at stake. That solution lasted a week and a bit, and finally we reached an agreement with a cargo company where the pilots would take the stem cells and at their stopover in Belgium would transfer the precious cargo to a courier who would take the stem cells to their destination in Europe or the United States or anywhere else in the world.
One of our couriers redefined the word ‘dedication’ when he found a creative solution to the problem. Mishel deserves a hero’s ovation. With a wife and two kids in Israel (who support his idealism), he has been literally living in airports. Two-week quarantine? No problem. He just remains in the airport until the next ‘little bag of life’ is brought to him. He has been crisscrossing the world– from Argentina to the US and 14 countries in Europe—without leaving the airport. “Chicken for breakfast and an apple for supper? At least I get to eat that day. (Some days I don’t.)”
Our Cancer Support Team has been holding tight to the hands of patients and their families, albeit from afar. Our social worker staff is not permitted entry into the hospital wards where they are to be found providing support to cancer patients. They keep in touch with patients/patients family members using phone/zoom/face time. The patients, for whom during regular days are struggle in dealing with cancer, really need support and encouragement, even if it’s remote. We’re trying to help with everything we can. The hospital social workers keep referring new patients to Ezer Mizion and we’re trying to help… Yesterday our staff ordered clothes for an elderly patient who went home alone with no family. He had no one to turn to for help…
Two young patients, mothers of children, who were supported by our staff for a long time, are in situations that are deteriorating. Under normal circumstances, our team would bring the children to say goodbye to their mother along with the close family.
This time, our devoted staff helped one of the patients to take short videos where she said goodbye to each of her children and parted from her family. It was just in time. Later that night she passed away. Are there any words to describe such a scene?