London siblings Jonni and Caroline Berger have taken to social media with an odd but potentially lifesaving hashtag:“#Spit4Mum.”
The Bergers are looking for a bone marrow donor for their mother Sharon, who needs a transplant urgently to treat a blood disorder, MDS.aspx). Simple saliva testing determines if would-be donors are a match, hence the campaign’s unique name.
The family is working with Anthony Nolan, a British blood cancer charity, to register bone marrow donors ages 16-30. Sharon, who is a member of Finchley Reform Synagogue in North London, is most likely to find a match in the Jewish community.
With coverage in the Jerusalem Post, the London Evening Standard, the Jewish Chronicle and elsewhere, the #Spit4Mum campaign has helped spur a 500% increase in the number of potential Jewish donors, with 180 new registrants in the first two weeks of January, Anthony Nolan reported.
But for every patient Anthony Nolan helps, another is turned away without a match, and for families like the Bergers, the clock is ticking.
“It really is a race against time — in six weeks’ time she will need a bone marrow transplant, and a good match has not yet been found,” Sharon’s son Jonni said in a statement from Anthony Nolan. “Although a match is most likely to come from a Jewish person with Ashkenazi heritage, we would like to grow the bone marrow register so that everyone can benefit.”