Allison Atlas Turns to Israel to Help Find Bone Marrow Donor

Allison Atlas, a 20-year-old leukemia victim from Bethesda, Md., has turned to Israel as the last hope to find a compatible donor of bone marrow which may still save her life.

Doctors say the best chance is to locate an unknown distant relative of Eastern European Jewish origin.

None has been found in the eastern United States, although more than 20,000 persons have volunteered to be tested since November. More than 20 people have found potential donors through the efforts of Atlas.

Israelis whose family roots are in Latvia, Lithuania and Byelorussia in the Soviet Union are now lining up for the simple blood test, which can show if they are suitable donors.

Blood samples from 572 volunteer donors were flown to Washington on Wednesday night, after a daylong campaign by the Magen David Adom on Tuesday.

The samples were air-transported to Washington after twice the anticipated number of volunteers came forward to be tested, creating a backlog for tissue-typing in Israeli centers.

The tests are being conducted at the Magen David Adom blood banks at Tel Hashomer Hospital near Tel Aviv, in Haifa and other locations.

The results will be known in a few days.

Atlas’s type of leukemia cannot be treated. It can be cured through bone-marrow transplants, but the marrow must be compatible for six different antigens.

“I know time is running out,” says Atlas, who was given three to six months to find a donor and is now in her seventh month.

“I’m still very optimistic,” the New York University business major added.

(JTA reporter Elena Neuman in New York contributed to this report.)

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