More than 20 years ago, Cindy was diagnosed with Polycythemia Vera, a type of blood cancer that causes your bone marrow to make too many blood cells. Treatment was fairly simple at first with consistent phlebotomy and then some chemotherapeutic medications. But after 15 years, Cindy’s bone marrow became fibrotic, her cell counts started dropping significantly, and she became dependent on frequent blood transfusions. Her care team made it clear that it was time to pursue a bone marrow transplant – her only hope for a cure.
Cindy was referred to City of Hope, and the search for her perfect match began. Unfortunately, Cindy’s sister was only a half-match (which is very common – 70% of the time a patient will not find a fully-matched donor in their family). So, her care team turned to Be The Match. They were able to find Cindy a perfect match through their access to over 39 million potential donors worldwide – and that donor just happened to be from Israel. A 19-year-old woman named Rotem donated during the early days of the pandemic – having to get special permission to travel to the clinic during the lockdown, without the ability to have a companion with her, and needing to return to the donation center for a second day in order to get enough cells – but that didn’t stop her. She was determined to give Cindy and her family hope for a future.
And she did provide hope. Her cells were transported to California (via another miracle – by a now famous Israeli courier who lived in the airport for months due to the pandemic lockdown in order to transport donations to patients in need safely). In September 2020, the transplant finally took place. For over 4 weeks, Cindy was in the hospital, waiting for her new cells to engraft and starting her recovery process – all in isolation. Due to COVID protocols, Cindy was alone in the hospital. Her family and a few close friends would “visit” by standing across the street from the hospital and waving up to the 6th floor window while talking to her by cell phone. But daily cards from her girls, Facetime calls, and messages of support from her family and friends kept her going. When serious complications to her treatment arose, Gary was allowed to come and stay with her in the hospital for another 10 days; his support helped her recover enough to be discharged.
Today, over 2 years after her initial transplant, Cindy is thriving! And her whole family was able to meet Rotem last year – spending time with her was like meeting a family member they didn’t know they had. “We were overjoyed and deeply grateful to meet this truly wonderful person who overcame obstacles in her way to save the life of a total stranger with her selfless and generous act,” said Cindy.
Since experiencing first-hand the life-saving impact of the Be The Match mission, the Frischling family has become steadfast supporters, dedicating their time and contributions towards accelerating this cause. “We are both humbled and excited to have been asked to be the 2023 Be The Match LA Soirée Honorary Chairs. We are grateful for the opportunity to tell our story with the hope of inspiring others to support Be The Match in any way they can.” Please join them– whether you decide to attend the Soiree with them, contribute towards their fundraising page, or find other ways to support the mission (like joining the registry!) – every action you take alongside us can help patients get to, and through, transplant, providing more outcomes like Cindy’s.