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Rutgers Student Saves a Life

Sep 15, 2004 by Gift of Life News

Three years ago, when Samuel, a student at Rutgers University, attended a Gift of Life donor recruitment drive at his campus' Hillel, he never imagined that such a simple act would result in saving a life. Just one year after joining the registry as a volunteer donor, Samuel was identified as a match for a little boy who needed a bone marrow transplant. Now, one year after the transplant, his recipient, 11 year-old Mark looks forward to a long, healthy and happy life. Recently, Mark and Samuel met for the first time at a special event planned by Gift of Life at Shea Stadium, home of the New York Mets. (click here for photos and story)

In an effort to increase participation of young, healthy donors like Samuel, Gift of Life has entered into a landmark partnership with Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life, the world's largest Jewish campus organization. Through this program, students on college campuses across North America will participate in programs aimed at raising awareness about the life-saving potential of bone marrow transplants. They will also coordinate donor recruitment drives like the one Samuel attended, adding many more names to Gift of Life's registry of volunteer donors. Since donors remain in the registry until their 61st birthday, recruiting young, healthy donors is particularly desirable as they have the potential to save lives for many decades to come.

Gift of Life manages a database of over 75,000 volunteer donors recruited in Jewish communities throughout North America. Its mission to improve the chances that Jewish patients needing transplants will find genetically matched donors, a need that arose in part due to the Holocaust which severed bloodlines, is unique among other bone marrow donor registries in the world. The donor database is made available to any transplant center searching for a match for patients around the world.

An integral part of the program will be education and empowerment. Students will work with Gift of Life to take leadership roles in setting up donor drives on their campuses and develop marketing plans to recruit and educate fellow students. Through their participation, Hillel students will also explore issues of Jewish medical ethics, such as views on organ donation and pikuach nefesh, saving lives.

"We are very excited about this life-saving partnership with Hillel," said Jay Feinberg, Gift of Life's executive director, himself a bone marrow transplant recipient. "By providing educational outreach on campus, we can reinforce the concept of tikkun olam and recruit young, committed donors who will remain in the registry for many years."

"We want every college student to understand that he or she has the power to save a life by participating in a bone marrow registry," explains Hillel International President Avraham Infeld. "Hillel is pleased to be playing a leading role on campus in promoting bone marrow registration."

The program will begin on campuses in the Fall semester of 2004. For more information, contact Eddie Feinberg, Gift of Life Recruitment Coordinator at (561) 988-0100 (toll free: 1-800-9MARROW), or Michelle Lackie, Director, Weinberg Tzedek Hillel at (202) 449-6595. For more information about Hillel, visit

To request information about organizing a donor drive on your campus, click here.