The family of critically ill Sharon Berger reacted with joy this week at the news that a bone marrow donor had been found for her after a community-wide campaign.
“It’s overwhelming, like winning the lottery,” said daughter Caroline Berger. “We never thought we’d find the person to save her life.”
Sharon, 61, from Harrow, north-west London, has been in hospital since December undergoing chemotherapy. For the past 10 weeks she has had to be kept in isolation to avoid life-threatening infection.
She suffers from Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS), a malfunction of the bone marrow in producing blood cells, which has left her, she said, with “no immune system for six years”.
Since she was admitted to hospital, her children Jonni, 34, and Caroline, 31, have led a campaign urging Ashkenazim to sign up as bone marrow donors.
Due to confidentiality rules, nothing is known about the donor other than that they are a close, although not 100 per cent, match.
A transplant is due to take place next week. Her son Jonni Berger explained: “The transplant is not a straightforward process and she has to be well enough first for it to take place”. However, if it is successful, it may well mean a complete cure for Sharon.
Caroline said: “My mum’s just hoping she can lead a normal life. She’s looking forward to going outside, to looking at the sky. She’s been in the same room for 10 weeks now. She wants to be able to go shopping and make chicken soup again. It’s her birthday in June - we hope she’ll be out for that.”
More than 1,000 Jews have registered as bone marrow donors over the past four months as a result of the campaign. Named after its Twitter hashtag, #Spit4Mum, it won the backing of organisations and religious movements across the community.