Watertown Hosts ABMDR Lecture on Stem Cell Harvesting Center

Dr. Frieda Jordan during her lecture at the Armenian Cultural and Educational Center.

Event is followed by ABMDR Boston Support Group appreciation evening

WATERTOWN—On February 27, Dr. Frieda Jordan, president of the Armenian Bone Marrow Donor Registry (ABMDR), delivered a much-anticipated lecture in Watertown, Massachusetts, at the Armenian Cultural and Educational Center (ACEC).

Dr. Jordan’s presentation was dedicated to the registry’s Stem Cell Harvesting Center in Yerevan and its pioneering and ongoing work in bringing cutting-edge molecular technologies to Armenia. The lecture was organized by the Armenian-American Medical Association (AAMA) and the Armenian Biotech Group of the Greater Boston Area, and sponsored by ACEC and the ABMDR New England Support Group.

In his opening remarks, ACEC president Dr. George Bashirians welcomed the attendees, who included doctors and medical professionals, the ABMDR New England Support Group, and numerous members of the local Armenian community, including representatives of various organizations and churches. Dr. Bashirians invited AMAA president Dr. Armen Arslanian as well as Dr. Ashot Papoyan, director of the Armenian Biotech Group of the Greater Boston Area, to introduce their respective organizations.

Dr. Frieda Jordan with event organizers and supporters, including Armenian Cultural and Educational Center president George Bashirians, PhD (fifth from left), ABMDR Board member Alvart Badalian (third from right), Armenian Biotech Group of Greater Boston Area president Ashot Papoyan, PhD (second from right), and Armenian-American Medical Association president Armen Arslanian, MD (far right).

Subsequently Dr. Arslanian, who also served as the event’s master of ceremonies, introduced Dr. Jordan. As she presented the history and life-saving mission of ABMDR’s Stem Cell Harvesting Center, Dr. Jordan spoke at length about the facility’s unique work in immunogenetics, including cord-blood banking, as well as diversification into various therapeutic treatments. In the past several years, Dr. Jordan said, the Stem Cell Harvesting Center has had an instrumental role in saving Armenian and non-Armenian patients’ lives by facilitating bone marrow stem cell transplants.

Dr. Jordan followed her lecture with a highly informative Q&A session. Afterwards ten attendees joined the ranks of ABMDR as potential bone marrow donors, and a reception was held in the ACEC hall.

Dr. Jordan stated that she hoped to see increased collaboration between ABMDR and other professional organizations. She also thanked Carolyn Mugar and Ara Nazarian for sponsoring the purchase of a specialized microscope for the ABMDR adipose tissue research project, which is currently being implemented at the Stem Cell Harvesting Center.

Commenting on the success of the event, Dr. George Bashirians said, “It was heartwarming to have patients and patients’ families among the attendees. They totally appreciated the life-saving activities of ABMDR and encouraged everyone to get more involved and build up their families’ ‘insurance policies’ by helping increase the size of the registry, just in case in the future they need to find a bone marrow stem cell donor among its ranks.”

Yeretskeen Natasha Aljalian addressing the attendees at the ABMDR volunteer-appreciation evening.

The following evening, Dr. Jordan joined ABMDR volunteers and the New England Support Group for a volunteer-appreciation event, hosted by Mr. and Mrs. Kegham and Rubina Varjabedian at their home in Boston. During the celebratory event, Dr. Jordan answered questions regarding the current work and future goals of the registry while members of the Support Group discussed upcoming activities in New England.

One of the highlights of the evening was a talk delivered by Yeretskeen Natasha Aljalian of St. James Armenian Church of Watertown, whose young son, Gabriel, has been battling leukemia. “ABMDR is a crucial life-saving organization,” Aljalian said. “Its work is so important — for Armenian children like our son Gabriel, who at the age of 3 began his battle against leukemia, and also for all Armenians fighting other blood cancers or disorders. We never expected leukemia to knock on our door. Sadly it will knock on other doors, including Armenian ones. Thankfully, Gabriel, now 6, is in remission and has completed his years of treatment. But for so many — and frankly for our own child should he relapse — ABMDR is the primary hope to save their lives. I only wish people would truly understand the scope, and importance, of supporting its remarkable work.”

Dr. Jordan presents the ABMDR Volunteer of the Year Award to Marilyn Bazarian of the New England Support Group.

Toward the conclusion of the evening, Dr. Jordan presented the ABMDR New England Volunteer of the Year Award to Marilyn Bazarian for her outstanding dedication. As she accepted the award, Bazarian said, “I am honored to have been chosen as a Volunteer of the Year. However, this really is a team award. Without the new England Support Group and the Walkathon team members, I would not have been able to achieve one-tenth of what has been achieved. So to all of you, this is your award and I thank you all for your hard work and support.”

The ABMDR New England Support Group will hold its fourth annual walkathon, Walk of Life, in mid-September.

About the Armenian Bone Marrow Donor Registry: Established in 1999, ABMDR, a nonprofit organization, helps Armenians and non-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 over 26,000 donors in 24 countries across four continents, identified 2,482 patients, and facilitated 20 bone marrow transplants.

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


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