ABMDR 10th Anniversary Celebrations Kick Off With Major Event In Artsakh
LOS ANGELES—The Armenian Bone Marrow Donor Registry held an extraordinary concert and donor recruitment drive in Artsakh on January 8. The much-anticipated event, titled “Save a Life,” marked the first of a series of functions that will take place throughout this year in celebration of the ABMDR’s tenth anniversary.
“Save a Life,” which was held at the Spayi Tun hall in Stepanakert, featured an extensive program of musical performances by prominent artists from Artsakh as well as Armenia. The six-hour event was attended by hundreds of concertgoers and ABMDR supporters, including a roster of Artsakh dignitaries.
“It was just a wonderfully festive occasion, and the outpouring of grassroots support made it all the more worthwhile,” said Dr. Frieda Jordan, president of the ABMDR Board of Directors. “Today, as we celebrate the tenth anniversary of the ABMDR, we are as much proud of the registry’s achievements as we are enthusiastic about its ongoing growth and community outreach.”
Dr. Sevak Avagyan, executive director of the ABMDR, added that there was symbolic significance in the choice of the Artsakh concert-recruitment date, as January 8 has been declared “Donor Day” by the government of Armenia. “We picked January 8 to further emphasize the critically important role that stem cell donors can have in helping save lives,” Dr. Avagyan said.
The “Save a Life” event was organized jointly by the ABMDR, the Artsakh Ministry of Health, and the republic’s Ministry of Youth and Cultural Affairs. Prior to the concert, on January 8, ABMDR staff members and several supporters, among them Artsakh government officials, visited the War Victims’ Memorial, also in Stepanakert, where they laid a wreath.
As with recruitment drives held across Armenia, the United States, and elsewhere, the ABMDR’s Artsakh concert gave dozens of volunteers the opportunity to educate attendees about the life-saving work of the registry as well as recruit potential bone marrow stem cell donors. The effort resulted in 160 new recruits, including Artsakh National Assembly member Ashot Ghulyan, Health Minister Armen Khachatryan, Youth and Cultural Affairs Minister Narine Aghabalyan, and Archbishop Pargev Martirosyan, Prelate of the Artsakh Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church.
Dr. Jordan said that Artsakh’s people and government alike continue to be extremely supportive of the ABMDR’s work. Yet another indication of their solidarity came in the form of a Certificate of Recognition, which the government of Artsakh bestowed on the ABMDR during the January 8 concert.
Previously the registry has held two recruitment drives in Artsakh, in 2002 and 2004, led by ABMDR Honorary President and former First Lady of Armenia Bella Kocharyan. The two campaigns resulted in the recruitment of a total of 805 stem cell donors.
Last year the ABMDR reached a key milestone when it opened a Stem Cell Harvesting Center in Yerevan. The only one of its kind in the Caucasus region, the center can store and harvest stem cells provided by healthy bone marrow donors. The stem cells subsequently can be utilized in transplants for patients suffering from life-threatening blood-related diseases such as leukemia and other cancers.
In 2010 the ABMDR’s tenth-anniversary events — including recruitment drives, concerts, and presentations — will seek to both recruit bone marrow donors and garner support for the registry’s next major goal, the establishment of a dedicated stem cell transplantation center in Armenia. “This will be the next logical step in the evolution of the ABMDR,” Dr. Jordan explained. “A full-fledged transplantation center will give thousands of Armenian patients access to affordable, life-saving stem cell transplants.”
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 over 15,000 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.