In 2017, Gift of Life became an official community partner of Zeta Beta Tau Fraternity. Gift of Life is an international bone marrow and blood stem cell registry. This organization aides in transplants for people fighting leukemia and lymphoma and finding donors. The mission of Gift of Life is to get as many people to sign up for the registry as possible, which they do by swabbing. Swabbing entails putting a q-tip in the inside of your cheeks and then putting it in an envelope with your information on it. Once swabbed, you are in the system until the age of 61. Any religion, ethnicity, or gender can get swabbed and potentially be a donor and save someone’s life.
At ZBT’s 2018 International Convention in Los Angeles, attendees were able to witness an emotional donor reveal where a donor and recipient met for the first time.
Thomas (Tom) N. Koerner, Gamma (Northwestern University) 2010 was able to meet Traci Pruitt, whose life he saved. Tom swabbed in 2010 at a drive organized by the Gamma Chapter in memory of Brother Michael Schatz, who lost his life to Leukemia ten years prior. Traci was diagnosed with Leukemia in 2012 and says she would probably not be here today without the transplant from Tom.
“She and I kind of locked eyes and just hugged and it’s tough to figure out what to say to somebody at that point. I was just so honored to meet her,” said Koerner.
Charlie Steinmetz, Psi (University of Alabama) 2019 said, “after recently being introduced to Gift of Life on my campus and joining the registry, I was profoundly moved by the power of this organization. Not only did I witness a sentimental moment between a bone marrow donor and his recipient, but I was reminded of the value and dignity in human life. These moments play an important part in reminding all of us how much positive change we can affect by working together.”
It was an emotional meeting, one that none of the 300+ award banquet attendees will surely not forget anytime soon.
“It was truly an honor to be part of such a special moment. Tom Koerner’s act of kindness was empowering, emotional and inspiring. This is something that I want to bring back to my chapter so that we can truly make a difference around us. To witness this first hand reminded me why I joined this organization and why it’s great to be a Zeeb.” Jack Mandel, Alpha Rho (University of California, Los Angeles) 2019 said.
In the past year, over the 30 chapters have hosted swab events and more than 3,350 people were added to the database. To date, there have been 33 matches from ZBT hosted-drives and 7 potentially life-saving transplants.
To find out more information on how to bring a swab event to your campus, please reach out to Director of Jewish Programs and Strategic Partnerships, Sheri Rosenberg at firstname.lastname@example.org.