Join Registry Give Now
Join Registry Give Now

Yeshiva University student meets retired professor whose life he saved during Celebrating Life

Mar 29, 2024 by Gift of Life News

More than 250 guests attended the annual Celebrating Life New York City held at the Hotel Edison Rooftop Ballroom on March 7, 2024. The event honors donors and recipients, volunteers and supporters from our Gift of Life community.  

The highlight of the evening was the moment when acute myeloid leukemia survivor Suzyn Ornstein met her lifesaving peripheral blood stem cell donor Jacob Faber.

They were introduced by David Osband, the son of noted pediatrician Dr. Michael Osband z”l. The Osband family worked with Gift of Life in 2005 to launch the Dr. Michael E. Osband Senior Swab Program, bringing the opportunity to join the registry to high school seniors across the United States.

Jacob and Suzyn were excited to finally meet, after a year of waiting. Donors and recipients must remain anonymous for the first year after transplant, so their first introduction is always an emotional experience. The two – and their spouses – greeted each other with warmth and shared a few words with the attendees.

Suzyn was diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome in 2018, but within two weeks it had become full-blown acute myeloid leukemia. Although she had a transplant from her brother in 2020, by March 2022 the leukemia had returned, and her doctors recommended a second transplant from an unrelated donor.

Fortunately, that donor was already in the registry. Jacob had joined Gift of Life at an Osband Senior Swab recruitment drive while still a high school student at the Torah Academy of Bergen County in April 2021.

Jacob was in Israel when he received an email late one night that he could save a life by donating.

“While I was reading the email, I received another email that they had tried to reach me by phone multiple times, but it was an old number,” he said. “I called Gift of Life back and I was very excited! I told my girlfriend Talia (now my wife) and my parents and was awake most of the night thinking about it.”

“I asked Jacob, ‘Why did you do this?’” said Suzyn. “’Because you needed it’ he told me. I thought that was the most wonderful thing anyone could possibly say.”

“Gift of Life gave me a chance to take an incredible voyage and participate in a life-saving mission,” said Jacob. “It was an amazing experience and I’d like to express my gratitude to the people at Gift of Life.”

Supporter Julia Kingsley honored

Julia Kingsley was honored by Gift of Life Marrow Registry for her support of the organization's mission. The recognition took place at the2024 Celebrating Life event in New York City. Julia is standing in front of a Gift of Life backdrop. She is a slim, light skinned woman in her 20s with shoulder length dark hair. She is wearing a bright pink suit and holding a glass award that has just been presented to her.

Also at the event, Julia Kingsley was honored for her leadership and ongoing commitment to Gift of Life’s Young Professionals Committee in New York. Julia joined the registry when her cousin needed a donor, and although she didn’t match her cousin, in 2022 she donated blood stem cells to a woman in her 60s diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome. She was inspired by the experience to become more involved with Gift of Life and has been raising money to help add new donors to the registry, created informational YouTube videos, used her social media to educate the public about donating and helped sign up new donors.

Jacob, 21, is married to Talia and they live in the Washington Heights neighborhood of New York City. He attends Yeshiva University where he is majoring in Data Analytics at the Sy Syms School of Business. He enjoys gaming and technology, gardening and grilling, analyzing the stock market and woodworking.

Suzyn, 67, is married to John Duggar, and they reside in Gloucester, Mass. She is a retired professor of business from the Sawyer Business School at Suffolk University, a graduate of the University of Michigan, and earned her Ph.D. at Ohio State University. She spends her free time rowing and is part of a rowing club.


To view the photo gallery from Celebrating Life, click here.


To join one of our Young Professionals Committees and help organize events, fundraise, and network with your peers, please complete the contact request form