Cancer Battle Leads To Donor Registery

Many of life’s events are cause for inspiration. For Jay Feinberg, it was his battle with cancer, reports Reuters.

It has been 20 years since he battled leukemia and won, but that hasn’t stopped him from pushing forward to help other with the Gift of Life Bone Marrow Foundation.

Feinberg abandoned plans to become a lawyer and devoted himself fulltime to running Gift of Life Bone Marrow Foundation, his nonprofit venture now based in Boca Raton, Florida. It has nearly 188,000 donors and has helped more than 2,300 patients receive bone marrow and stem cell transplants.

“We had built such a tremendous force here with thousands and thousands of volunteers and subject-matter expertise,” said Feinberg, whose mission began after his doctor told him that his chances for a donor match were slim and he should start compiling a bucket list. “We really put a lot of time into figuring out how to run these (donor) drives strategically. It wasn’t a simple prospect.”

Gift of Life retains a staff of 40 – double from five years ago – and besides a fundraising setback during the downturn in 2008, its budget has steadily grown, reaching $6 million annually. The group also operates a program to collect stem cell rich cord blood after women give birth.

Feinberg places a premium on customer service, making the education and comfort of donors his priorities.

“I’ve done it twice and I would do it again,” said Ben Nagin, 39, a Manhattan attorney who donated stem cells to a young girl, a process that required half a day hooked up to a machine with needles in his arm. “They don’t just say there’s a match, good luck. They walk you through the process, they call you, email you. They’ll send a car for you.”

For his part, Feinberg continues to get the word out, spending much of his time on the road fundraising, with plans to reach 20,000 registrants by year-end. He’s set on bucking trends that according to Bryne may not show a return to pre-recessionary charitable giving for five to six years.

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