Seventy percent of Israelis who are drafted into the Israel Defense Forces have agreed to donate bone marrow samples in order to save lives, according to a report in the Times of Israel. Evidently, as a result of the collaboration between the IDF and the Ezer Mizion Bone Marrow Registry, Israel now has the highest per capita bone marrow sample registry rate in the world. The implications of this will be especially felt in areas of the Jewish Diaspora that lacked sufficient donors, since bone marrow samples need to be made to people within one’s own ethnic group.

This implies that Israeli soldiers are not only defending the State of Israel but also the Jewish people, said Maj. Gen. (res) Elazar Stern, the officer who initiated the program. According to the Times of Israel, “A bone marrow transplant is, in essence, a stem cell donation. Those suffering from leukemia, Hodgkin’s lymphoma and a host of other blood diseases are no longer capable of producing healthy blood cells. Their bone marrow is under attack from the disease and decimated by chemotherapy, and often their only chance of survival is through a genetically compatible donor.”

Major Gen. Zamir asserted, “We are satisfied with the increase of IDF soldiers donating bone marrow. In days of emergency and routine, we educate our soldiers to fulfill their military missions, however complex and sensitive they may be, and stay human. There is no closer or more important bond between one human being and another, between someone who is in need and someone who wants to give, and especially when talking about a donation that improves life and sometimes even saves it.”

One of the donors was Sgt. Idan Ducach. When he decided to enlist, he did a blood test with the Ezer Mizion Bone Marrow Registry. Later on, they called Sgt. Ducach up and asked him to donate his bone marrow. He complied and ended up saving the life of a young American boy named Alex. Sgt. Ducach would later on fly to the United States in order to meet Alex and his family, whom he told “about the process of the donation, about the unique cooperation with the IDF,” and Alex’s family responded by showing pictures and stories from Alex’s illness. Sgt. Ducach claims after that “it really began to sink in that I saved someone’s life.”

A combat soldier named Cpl. Osher Ozen also decided to give a blood sample and would later join the list of Israeli soldiers donating blood marrow. He managed to save a six-year-old girl with his donation and has zero regrets about it. Cpl. Ozen asserted, “When I decided to give a blood sample at the Induction Center, I thought that since I chose to become a combat soldier and am contributing to the country, then saving a life with a bone marrow donation is just like fighting in enemy territory. When informed, […] I decided to go for it and save a life.” His commanders supported him through this process.

By Rachel Avraham