Giving the gift of life



June 12, 2017

When Ryan Woloshin swabbed his cheek in January 2014, he recalls thinking “I hope I get called.” At the time he was working as the director of Jewish student life for University of Arizona Hillel Foundation, and one of his students had arranged a bone marrow registry drive through Gift of Life.

Now regional director for Eastern Region BBYO, Woloshin recently found out that he is a match for a 54-year-old male with Myelodysplastic Syndrome, a precursor to leukemia. Woloshin donated stem cells on June 5 at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital. Though he has narrow veins, requiring his stem cells to be collected via a central line from his jugular vein as opposed to from his arm, Woloshin wasn’t afraid of being poked and prodded. Throughout the process, his only concern was that something would be flagged in his body that would prevent him from giving.

Though Woloshin may never meet his recipient (donors and recipients can meet one year after a successful transplant, upon the patient’s consent), he hopes one day soon to meet his match.

“In Rambam’s [Maimonides] hierarchy, the highest level of giving is when the donor doesn’t know the recipient,” he said. “There’s something to be said about the anonymity piece and how special that is, but there’s also something to be said for meeting someone from a different walk of life.”

Ryan Woloshin (left) met with Gift of Life Chairman of the Board Bill Begal before donating stem cells.