Shari Woldenberg, a survivor of stage 4 non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, is organizing a bone marrow drive at Congregation Beth Shalom in Pittsburgh to encourage others to consider joining the Gift of Life bone marrow registry. Woldenberg, who was diagnosed with the disease 22 years ago and survived due to a stem cell transplant from her sister, hopes to inspire others to potentially save a life by becoming a donor. The drive, scheduled for January 28, will be facilitated by the national nonprofit registry, Gift of Life, which helps match patients in need of transplants with compatible donors.
Woldenberg’s sister, Beth MacCrindle, emphasizes that the process of donating stem cells is relatively non-invasive and simple. Potential donors only need to complete a cheek swab to register and be considered for a transplant. The likelihood of finding a suitable match is increased when individuals of similar race or ethnicity join the registry. About 18,000 people in the US are diagnosed with blood cancers or other life-threatening illnesses each year, and about 70% of them do not have a family member who is a match, thereby relying on unrelated donors. Additionally, the drive aims to maintain an adequate blood supply in Pittsburgh in case it needs to be transported to Israel during its conflict with Hamas.