Ralph Yirikian will be Honored as Armenian Bone Marrow Man of the Year

Dr. Frieda Jordan, president of the ABMDR Board of Directors, and Ralph Yirikian of VivaCell during the opening of the Stem Cell Harvesting Center in Yerevan, April 28.

Dr. Frieda Jordan, president of the ABMDR Board of Directors, and Ralph Yirikian of VivaCell during the opening of the Stem Cell Harvesting Center in Yerevan, April 28.

LOS ANGELES—The Armenian Bone Marrow Donor Registry announced that Ralph Yirikian will be named its Man of the Year during “Match for Life 2009,” the registry’s upcoming annual gala. The event will also honor a number of volunteers for their outstanding service to the ABMDR, and celebrate the launch of the registry’s Stem Cell Harvesting Center in Yerevan.

“Match for Life 2009” will be held on Sunday, July 12, beginning 7 pm, at the Glendale Hilton (100 West Glenoaks Blvd., Glendale, California, 91202).

“Ralph Yirikian is someone who embodies the concept of corporate social responsibility,” said Dr. Frieda Jordan, president of the ABMDR Board of Directors. “With his unflinching support of our work, Mr. Yirikian has shown once again that community give-back can be an integral aspect of a corporation, making a wonderful and far-reaching impact on people’s lives. This is why we’re so proud of his generous assistance, and privileged to name him the ABMDR Man of the Year.”

As general manager of VivaCell-MTS, a telecommunications leader in Armenia, Yirikian facilitated a $350,000 contribution by his company toward the purchase of state-of-the-art medical equipment for the Stem Cell Harvesting Center. Moreover, Yirikian recently helped save a young life through the ABMDR. When the family of Meline, a child who suffered from a life-threatening blood-related disease, turned to him for help, Yirikian did not hesitate to provide VivaCell funding for a stem cell transplant, in keeping with his company’s commitment to supporting a variety of social and cultural causes. Meline’s costly operation, which had to be performed outside Armenia, was her only chance of survival.

“Being a devoted father of two, and also the husband of a nurse who worked at the cancer ward of the American University of Beirut, Mr. Yirikian understands the anguish and sometimes sense of helplessness which parents of critically ill children feel,” Dr. Jordan said. “With his timely support, Mr. Yirikian became a veritable angel to Meline and her family.”

The ABMDR’s Stem Cell Harvesting Center opened officially on April 28. The only one of its kind in the region, the facility can store and harvest stem cells provided by healthy bone marrow donors. The stem cells subsequently can be utilized in transplants for patients afflicted by life-threatening diseases such as leukemia and other cancers.

Recently the Stem Cell Harvesting Center passed the second phase of inspections by the European Federation of Immunogenetics, the agency that regulates and licenses such facilities in the region. Given the superlative credentials of the Stem Cell Harvesting Center’s staff and services, Dr. Jordan said, she expects that the facility will be granted full licensing in the near future.

“Our next major goal is to establish a dedicated stem cell transplantation center in Armenia,” Dr. Jordan added. “Since 80% of the ABMDR’s donors are from Armenia, it was imperative to have a Stem Cell Harvesting Center in the country. Now that this dream has become reality, we’re working hard toward the next logical step, a full-fledged transplantation center, which would give thousands of Armenian patients access to affordable, life-saving stem cell transplants.”

Hosted by attorney Mark Geragos, chairperson of the ABMDR, “Match for Life 2009” will recognize and honor the work of volunteers Steve Artinian, VP of advertising at Closet World and chairperson of Homenetmen Western U.S.; Susanna Avagyan of Glendale Memorial Hospital; and Taleen Khatchadourian, owner of Sylvan Learning Centers. In addition, The Comedy Store will be honored as the ABMDR’s Business of the Year.

The gala will feature a video presentation of the ABMDR’s accomplishments during the past year, including the opening of the Stem Cell Harvesting Center and numerous stem cell donor registration drives across the U.S. “All of these achievements were made possible through honest-to-goodness grassroots support and critically important funding from our lead benefactors,” Dr. Jordan said. “Our upcoming gala will be a great opportunity to express our heartfelt thanks to everyone, to publicly acknowledge their selfless dedication and abiding faith in the mission of the ABMDR.”

For reserving tickets to the “Match for Life 2009” gala, call the ABMDR office at (323) 663-3609, Nectar Kalajian at (626) 705-2565, or Ani Azar at (818) 606-6000.

About the Armenian Bone Marrow Donor Registry: Established in 1999, the ABMDR, a nonprofit organization, helps Armenians worldwide survive life-threatening blood-related illnesses by recruiting and matching donors to those requiring bone marrow stem cell transplants. To date, the registry has recruited 14,144 donors across three continents, identified 1,305 patients, found 1,033 potential matches, and facilitated nine bone marrow transplants.

For more information, call (323) 663-3609 or visit abmdr.am.

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