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The Plasma Story

Moshe Unger - Columnist
Posted 6/4/20

“There were probably never so many Hasidim in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, in its history, and here they're riding in, literally, to save lives,” according to a quote in a NY Times article on May 12, …

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The Plasma Story


“There were probably never so many Hasidim in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, in its history, and here they're riding in, literally, to save lives,” according to a quote in a NY Times article on May 12, 2020.

What happened? There is a big drive in the Orthodox community for people who recovered from Covid-19 to donate blood plasma for convalescent plasma treatment. The plasma is rich in antibodies and patients are then treated with it. There has been many recovery stories with this treatment and the medical community is putting high hopes on it, although its use against Covid-19 is still in its research stages.

The initiative was spearheaded by Mr. Chaim Lebowitz from Monsey, NY who has a friendly relationship with Dr. Shmuel Shoham from John Hopkins University. Dr. Shoham reached out to Mr. Lebowitz saying that there is this plasma idea to treat Covid patients and they want to try it but they need volunteers. Lebowitz sprang into action.

The close-knit nature of the Orthodox community and the many people willing to volunteer, brought throngs of Orthodox Jews to fill the New York and New Jersey blood banks. When they couldn't accommodate the many donors, Mayo Clinic in Bethlehem, PA was next in line.

In fact, I saw a report in a newspaper about a nurse in one of the Bethlehem, PA's hospitals who became ill from Covid, and a Chasid from Kiryat Joel drove there to donate and she has since returned to her holy work of saving people.

I'm relating these stories because I was excited about them and I thought my readers would also be. Also, the fact that many in the Orthodox community had the virus and recovered is important so as not to be afraid that we'll see an escalation in Sullivan County in the summer. There are very few, if at all, new cases in Brooklyn. According to Hatzalah (the local volunteer EMS) the calls of the last month already returned to the same as pre-Covid.

Another point, I believe that after this pandemic passes, we'll be welcoming a new world. Not a perfect one, but a better one. A simple look at history shows that after every low came an abundance of blessings.

Examples from recent history are, after WWII and after the fall of Soviet Russia. When the pandemic and the riots are over, and life comes back to normal, I believe that people will be more compassionate and more community minded.

I hope that one of the blessings that will come, will be great cooperation between our community and other communities to further social responsibilities within communities. Many organization models within our community can be replicated to other communities.

When the health department in Israel wanted to set up a Plasma donations center they contacted John Hopkins University and they in turn told them “go speak with your local Orthodox community!” It's funny how people can sometimes be oblivious about what's going on in their own backyards.

My hope is that this is just a beginning of great synchronizations of energies that will lead to many blessings for us all.

It's hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel, especially with the rioting that's happening now. We need to lend our compassion to the victims of the virus and the victims of the brutality and the civil unrest.

However, the light will come, as history has shown us time and again, and with G-d's help, it will be better than it was ever before. May we all see it soon!

Comments? Email me: Moshe@jaketv.tv.


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