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Jazz Musician Michael Brecker Seeking Bone Marrow/Blood Stem Cell Donor for Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS)

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I received this from a friend of Michael’s family. Written by Michael’s wife, Susan Brecker, it contains excellent information on bone marrow/blood stem cell transplant procedures for your information in addition to the request to consider being tested as a potential donor for Michael (or another patient.)

Michael Brecker, has been diagnosed with MDS (myelodysplastic syndrome), and it’s critical that he has a marrow or blood stem cell transplant—which has nothing to do with the polarizing issue of embryonic stem cells. The initial search for a donor, including Michael’s siblings and children, has not resulted in a suitable match. We now hope to have as many people tested as possible that share a similar genetic background as my husband. There are some important points to understand concerning this process:

1. The screening involves only a blood test. It can be done very easily at a donor center of the National Marrow Donor Program. The blood test identifies your HLA tissue type. The cost for the test is generally $40 to $95 depending on the donor center and the laboratory that completes the test. After this initial testing, all medical expenses are paid for by the patient or the patient’s insurance. Go to www.marrow.org or call 1-800-MARROW-2 to find the donor center nearest you. In NYC, call Frazier at the NY Blood Bank [212-570-3441 / 310 East 67th Street] to make an appointment. The test is $40. If it’s difficult to make it to a blood center, private kits are available from Tepnel Life Codes [800-915-3695]. Order the “HLA [A][B][DR]” kit for $140. You will need to have a small vial of blood drawn. Indicate to Tepnel that your test is for “Michael Brecker” and they will know to whom to forward your results.

2. As a volunteer donor, you are never legally obligated to donate. Individual decisions are always respected. However, a late decision not to donate can be life-threatening to a patient and among the most disheartening news a family can ever receive. Therefore, please carefully consider your decision to be a donor.

3. Should you be selected as a potential donor for Michael or any other patient, please understand that there have been tremendous advances in “bone marrow transplants” and the term itself can be misleading. At major cancer centers, blood stem cells can in nearly all instances be harvested directly from your blood. A donor is simply connected to a machine that separates the blood stem cells before the donor’s blood reenters his/her system. On occasion, stem cells may have to be harvested directly from your bone marrow. All the necessary precautions are taken to ensure the safety and well-being of the donor. A number of personal health questions are asked when individuals join the National Marrow Donor Program Registry to be sure they are in general good health. In the event you’re asked to donate marrow or blood cells, a volunteer will first receive a thorough physical examination—at no cost to him or herself.

4. A match for Michael would be most likely come from those of Eastern European Jewish descent. If you or anyone you know are in this category please make a special effort to immediately get tested. Ultimately, you would be doing something not just for Michael, but for so many more who are in a similar situation as my husband.

Finally, any local National Marrow Donor Program donor center can assist in organizing a drive for Michael, although it would be desirable if you can get a large group, e.g. a synagogue, to sponsor it. The “Gift of Life,” an organization whose mission is to increase the representation of the Jewish people in the bone marrow donor pool, will test you for free when part of a donor drive organized through “Gift of Life.” Call 561.988.0100 [ http://www.giftoflife.org] for further information. There exist other organizations that have a similar mission for African Americans, Asians, Hispanics, etc. Whatever your roots, please get tested to assist others!

Should you have any questions about any of this, please do not hesitate to get in touch with Michael’s management office at 212.302.9200 or info@michaelbrecker.com

Thank you so much for your love and support. We are so grateful.

Susan ox

Click here for more information on stem cell transplants

Michael Brecker is 56 and an internationally renowned jazz musician. As a result of his harmonic innovations, Michael is among the most studied contemporary instrumentalists in music schools throughout the world today. Michael has played on hundreds of albums with artists ranging from Herbie Hancock to James Taylor, from Paul Simon to Frank Zappa to Quincy Jones, Chet Baker and Bruce Springsteen—and on and on. As a leader and co-leader of The Brecker Brothers (with Randy Brecker) and Directions in Music (with Herbie Hancock and Roy Hargrove), Michael has received 11 Grammy Awards ,more than any saxophonist, ever. For further information, go to http://www.michaelbrecker.com

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About Laura Young

  • http://arkady.com/jfletter.html ARKADY

    Thanks for posting this!!! I hope your list is bigger than mine:)

    I’ve been going crazy trying to help Michael… Here are some links I’ve set up at my site…

    SAVE MICHAEL BRECKER’S LIFE!!! (ARKADY.COM)
    http://www.arkady.com/thoughts.html

    MICHAEL BRECKER UPDATE
    http://www.arkady.com/jfletter.html

    I spoke to Michael last Friday, and he is FIGHTING BACK… Last 2 days he’s been in PAIN after chemo etc…

    Hope folks will download and post my flyer… Michael has gratefully approved it…

    “It’s never too late to EULOGIZE,
    but it’s never too soon to ORGANIZE!!!”
    — ARKADY.COM – Arkady