LOS ANGELES–A Gala Banquet to benefit the Armenian Bone Marrow Project was held at the Glendale Hilton Hotel on February 17. The project was established two years ago by Dr. Frieda Jordan after several visits to Armenia.
First Lady of the Republic of Armenia–Dr. Bella Kocharian–traveled to Los Angeles specifically for the banquet. Kocharian is the honorary chairperson of the project’s trust fund. Her contribution to the project has been most helpful. The First Lady performed the opening ceremony of the Armenian Bone Marrow Data Base Center in Yerevan on December 28–2000–and was the first bone marrow donor. The new center will serve leukemia patients of Armenian descent both in Armenia and the Diaspora.
Guests were welcomed by Dalida Keuroghlian of the fund-raising committee. The Master of Ceremonies for the evening was attorney Mark Geragos.
The Glendale Memorial Hospital and Health Center–a major sponsor of the project–was represented by Patrick Petrey who announced the hospital will provide assistance for six years–instead of three years promised initially. The opening of a satellite laboratory of the Armenian Bone Marrow Project was held at Glendale Memorial Hospital on February 20–and was attended by Bella Kocharian. Patrick Petrey praised Dr. Freida Jordan’s wholehearted dedication to the project.
Michelle Topalian–wife of Mourad Topalian–spoke of the various ordeals her family experienced when looking for a suitable bone marrow for their daughter. Topalian stressed the importance of the project’s data base which is so necessary among Armenia’s. She urged Armenia’s to donate their bone marrow for this cause.
Consul General of the Republic of Armenia to Los Angeles Valeri Mkrtoumian welcomed First Lady Bella Kocharian to Los Angeles. He thanked Dr. Freida Jordan and Executive Director of the Data Base Center in Yerevan Dr. Sevak Avakian–who was also in Los Angeles for the occasion–for their efforts at realizing this project.
Dr. Freida Jordan spoke to the guests–thanking them for their contributions and support to the project. She mentioned the successful fund-raisers held in August and November of last year–and took pride in the First Lady’s attendance of this third major fund-raiser. Dr. Jordan was grateful for all the generous contributions collected at these fund-raisers–especially those of Glendale Memorial Hospital–which were allocated for the purchase of all the necessary laboratory equipment for the Data Base Center in Yerevan. She also acknowledged Dr. Sevak Avakian’s efforts at establishing the tissue-typing laboratory within 21 days. Setting up the center in harsh winter weather conditions was especially difficult.
Jordan stated–"Now that we are fully operational our registry will be linked to the World Bone Marrow Donor Network–and will be searched by other registries. Being the only registry in the Caucasian region and the Middle East–we hope one day we will be able to serve also patients from other countries. This would put Armenia among all other progressive developed countries–both in terms of technology and humanitarian stand. Furthermore–I am happy to inform you that the name Armenia would appear as the first nation among all other 35 registries due to the alphabetical order of the spelling."
Two technicians from Yerevan State University were trained by Dr. Jordan–as well Supervisor–Armenouhe Housyan–who received training at Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. The database manager received training at London’s Anthony Nolan Bone Marrow Trust–which is the world’s third largest bone marrow transplant registry.
The other objective of the project has been to open satellite laboratories throughout the world where there are large Armenian populations. This is so that all Armenia’s will have the opportunity to join the registry and help in this lifesaving operation. In addition to the one opened at Glendale Memorial Hospital–the project plans on opening similar laboratories in France–Lebanon and other countries. The target is to recruit 10,000 donors within 4 years in order to be able to provide one potential match for every 200 donors typed.
Dr. Jordan concluded by saying–"This project does not only involve Armenia’s from Armenia–but it is an international project linking all Diasporan communities with their homeland. Armenia’s can only help Armenia’s since their genetic compatibility is unique as is the case with other ethnic groups."
First Lady Bella Kocharian briefed the guests on the statistics of leukemia in Armenia. Within this last year–30-35 children in Armenia and Artsakh were diagnosed with the disease–of which 75 percent were cured. However–with this Data Base Center the remaining patients can also be treated and hopefully cured.