Armenian Bone Marrow Donor Registry Finds Match for First Armenia Patient

TRANSPLANT SCHEDULED IN POLAND FOR 11-YEAR-OLD ARAM

"EVERY ARMENIAN LIFE THAT WE SAVE IS–INDEED–PRECIOUS." — BELLA KOCHARIAN–MD–FIRST LADY OF ARMENIA AND FIRST DONOR TO THE ABMDR

YEREVAN–A few Individuals can make a difference in the world–and this time–they may just have found a way to save a young boy’s life.

When 10-year-old Aram was diagnosed with leukemia a year ago–his doctors were hopeful that a series of chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatmen’s would help him. They also contacted the Armenian Bone Marrow Donor Registry (ABMDR) to see if there was a bone marrow donor match just in case the therapies didn’t work and he needed a transplant in the future. An identical donor match was found–but it wasn’t until this December that the doctors determined that a transplant was his only hope for survival.

But it would take more than the generous heart of a donor and the dedication of his doctors and the ABMDR staff to save Aram’s life. Aram and his family faced other challenges: raising money to pay for the transplant and finding a transplant center–since Armenia has no such facility.

Through the passionate commitment and direct initiative of the ABMDR’s honorary chairperson–First Lady of Armenia Dr. Bella Kocharian–funds have been raised for Aram’s transplant and arrangemen’s have been coordinated with the ABMDR for his transplant in Poland. When the First Lady of Poland visited Yerevan two years ago–First Lady Kocharian showed her the ABMDR facilities and told her that Armenia has no transplant center. Moved and impressed by the ABMDR’s efforts–First Lady Kwashniewska offered to make Poland’s facility available to Armenian patients at minimal cost.

While the ABMDR does not provide funds for transplantation costs–it can provide connections and visibility–as was the case with Aram and his family. Publicity surrounding the ABMDR’s recent anniversary gala in Yerevan coordinated through First Lady Kocharian’s office catalyzed special efforts to raise funds for Aram’s transplantation costs–resulting in over $30,000 collected from the Armenian community.

Support for Aram and his family came from other sources as well. ABMDR Executive Director Sevak Avagyan relayed the young boy’s circumstances to Catholicos Garegin II–who gave his blessing to Aram before he left for Poland.

Now–with the help of a few committed individuals–Aram is in Poland armed for the fight of his life. The first bone marrow transplant resulting from the ABMDR’s identification of a marrow match occurred at City of Hope in Los Angeles in 2003. Aram’s will be the second transplantation–with many more likely to be scheduled among Armenian patients and their potential donors in the months ahead.

The ABMDR is a non-profit organization whose mission is to ensure that every ethnic Armenian struck with a life-threatening blood-related illness is able to find hope for long-term survival through the identification of a genetically suitable bone marrow match. It is a member of the Bone Marrow Donors Worldwide association–which helps the ABMDR to identify more patients in need and find bone marrow matches. Since December 2000–over 6,500 Armenia’s in Armenia and the United States have registered with the ABMDR–209 patients have been identified who need transplants–and 70 potential bone marrow matches have been identified.

Those who wish to further assist the Registry in helping patients like Aram may write ABMDR President Dr. Frieda Jordan at 347 W. Stocker St.–Suite 208–Glendale–California–e-mail her at Frieda.jordan@att.net–or call her at (818) 547-1374.

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