Rabbi from D.C. meets her Israeli stem cell recipient in emotional international introduction.
Stem cell donor Rabbi Eliana Yolkut, 43, from Washington, D.C., met her recipient Dalia Gera, a 39-year-old interior designer from Mazkeret Batya, Israel during the Steps for Life closing ceremony. They were introduced by Gift of Life Chairman Emeritus and Board Member, William A. Begal.
Dalia was diagnosed with leukemia three-and-a-half years ago. Her family members did not have a close enough tissue type to donate to her, so her doctors turned to the international database of donors to find her match. Fortunately, Elianna had joined Gift of Life in 2004 at a festival at Hebrew Union College in Los Angeles and was ready and willing to donate.
“It is a sacred, holy task to save a life if you have the opportunity to do so,” said Elianna. “I was hopeful and grateful that I might help someone in a dire situation.”
When Dalia learned her donor had been found, she cried for two straight days from relief at the good news.
“When the cells arrived, it was like meeting a long lost relative,” said Dalia. “I’ve been waiting for this meeting since day one. You didn’t save just me, you saved my family. You did a very big thing, not just for life, but for spirit.”
“I should be thanking you for the chance to do this mitzvah,” said Elianna. “It’s such a gift to me to help you in this way and to meet you and see your family.”