May 22, 2009 — In the midst of their final exams, more than 40 Yeshiva University students made an appearance on CBS’ Early Show on May 21 to promote the bone marrow awareness campaign run by YU’s Student Medical Ethics Society.
The students, who stood in the outdoor audience decked in Yeshiva University-branded paraphernalia, were invited by CBS to appear on the show after a previous appearance on NBC’s Today Show. They wanted to encourage a broader audience to join the Gift of Life Bone Marrow Registry to find a donor for Jake, a 19-year-old boy with leukemia who is in desperate need of a bone marrow or stem cell transplant.
“There are a lot of people to be proud of on the plaza today … these great folks from Yeshiva University,” said Early Show anchor Dave Price when he introduced the YU contingent on camera.
Price spoke of the students’ effort to “Save Jake” and encouraged Americans to register with Gift of Life. “A one-minute cheek swab has the potential to save a life,” he said.
Since the students’ appearance on national television, the Gift of Life received close to 600 hits on its Web site and 30 new donors have joined the registry.
Avi Amsalem, co-president of the Student Medical Ethics Society, noted the dual importance of the television appearance. “In addition to significantly raising awareness for bone marrow recruitment efforts, students who attended were infused with a sense of pride of their student activism,” said Amsalem, himself a donor.
Rabbi Kenneth Brander, dean of the Center for the Jewish Future (CJF)—which mentors the Medical Ethics Society—noted that the recruitment drive is “a profound expression of our students ‘getting it,’ of understanding their responsibility to play an active role in our community and society in general.
“Inspiring students to be future leaders is one of the cornerstones of the center’s mission,” Brander said.
Since learning about Jake’s condition in early May, the society reenergized their efforts on campus to encourage students to join the registry.
Jay Feinberg, leukemia survivor and founder of Gift of Life, expressed his gratitude towards the student initiative. “The Medical Ethics Society has taken a leadership role in saving lives. As a transplant recipient myself, I can think of no greater mitzvah [good deed],” Feinberg said.
“The students’ commitment to the cause is particularly impressive,” said Aliza Berenholz, senior events coordinator for the CJF. “They woke up in the wee hours of the morning to pray the morning service in a minyan [quorum] before appearing on television—only to rush back to school after the program to take their final exam.”