Long before the rest of the world started talking about plasma and its use in the fight against the coronavirus, Dr. Shmuel Shoham knew everything about her — including where he could get a lot of plasma. By the beginning of March Shoham, an expert on infectious diseases in transplant patients at the Johns Hopkins University, have realized that the plasma of convalescent antibodies released from the blood of people who had Covid-19 – can be a key treatment in the fight against this disease. So he called up his friend who is an Orthodox Jew, Chaim Lebovits, wholesale dealer shoes from Monsey, new York, to ask him if he could induce the other members of his community to donate their plasma.
According to Shoham, Orthodox Jews before, and suffered greatly from the virus, and, probably, among them were many people with the right antibodies – people who got sick and recovered, or people who have had the virus, but they didn’t even know about it. “I had no idea that he would drop everything and immerse themselves in it,” said Shoham. Lebowitz “gives members of their community the chance to do something, now that they have this power in their body to change the situation.” What began as a voluntary attempt of one person to connect ill Covid-19 of Jews with new York hospitals, has now become a broad coalition that includes major hospitals, the Orthodox organizations and a number of Orthodox Jews from strongly religious Hasidim to the so-called modern Orthodox, who are more actively involved in social life. Did Orthodox Jews, a major force in the donation of plasma, which, as I hope the doctors will be of great benefit in the fight against coronavirus.
These efforts also gave the Orthodox Jews, which in new York and the surrounding area has about 700,000 people, the chance to review the narrative about the coronavirus in their community. Although all the main institutions of Orthodox life were closed in the Hasidic community was not kept to this rule community, such as schools and mikvah that remain open, or the funeral, which collected hundreds of mourners. These exceptions, as they are called Orthodox Jews, led to the negative attention of the media and statements in the social networks that Orthodox Jews spread the virus and ignore the rules of social distancing to a greater extent than other groups.
Yonoson Rosenblum of the Orthodox monthly newspaper “Mishpaha,” wrote in an article published on April 21 that the effort to plasma donation was aimed at creating a world in which “all the negative news about the Haredi” or ultra – Orthodox Jews – “was suddenly replaced with images of haredim who survived Covid-19, and lined up in queue to give potentially life-saving blood plasma recovered to those who are still struggling with the virus.”
Lebowitz has no medical education, but for many years acted as an informal adviser to friends and fellow Chassidim who want to get help in establishing contacts and communicating with health professionals about their treatment. Here’s how Lebowitz met Shahama and Dr. Jeffrey Bandera, a cardiologist at the hospital, “mount Sinai”, which helped Lebovitz start guide Orthodox donor program donation of plasma in the hospital. Lebowitz began working on in order to induce Jews to donate plasma in early March. But when the wholesale trade was closed due to quarantine as irrelevant business, he decided to create a network of rabbis, religious organizations, researchers, viruses, healthcare workers and hospital administrators to talk to Orthodox Jews about the benefits of donation of plasma, test them, take their blood, to provide rich plasma antibodies and pass it on to hospitals.
Still, according to Lebovich, more than 3,000 people – mostly men – has donated the plasma in blood banks throughout the region, and another 6,000 people as of April 22 was tested to determine the presence of the desired antibodies. Lebowitz said he hopes to arrange delivery of plasma 45,000 people from the Orthodox communities of new York and its environs.
Dr. David Reich, President and chief operating officer of system hospitals, “mount Sinai”, said that more than half of the donors involved in the delivery of plasma, were Orthodox Jews. “Plasma is not only used for Frolov”, (religious Jews) “or the Jews, but for people in General,” said Lebowitz. “We, as observant Jews are required to preserve life, to save life and to help the greatest number of people.” These efforts received the blessing of the Orthodox establishment. Two respected Rabbi who can rule on Jewish law, Rabbi Yisroel Reisman and Rabbi Reuven Feinstein said that Jews are encouraged to donate the plasma, and they can even ride on Shabbat and holidays to do it.
“Orthodox Union” and “Agudat Yisrael”, the two largest Orthodox organizations that send out messages to the community on the study of plasma and its use for the treatment Covid-19. Lebowitz and his colleagues-volunteers worked with health centers in areas inhabited by Orthodox Jews, to test and learn whether people had sufficient amounts of antibodies for donation of plasma, and then agreed on admission to hospital blood banks, which may obtain plasma. Lebowitz said that he sends the tests to a network of clinics “mount Sinai” and “Montefiore” in new York, and emergency services that can send tests in large laboratories and the Mayo clinic in Minnesota. As soon as people get permission for blood donation, the challenge is to find a place in the centers of blood donation, many of which are Packed to the eyeballs.
Mardi Searle, a lawyer from Flatbush district in Brooklyn, which helps in this work, said the new York blood center, a nonprofit organization that supplies blood hundreds of new York hospitals, according to them at 17:00. how many seats they have open for next day, and Searle finds donors to fill these places. According to Searl, rich benefactors-Orthodox are also involved in the procurement of vehicles for blood centers, so they can accommodate more donors. He declined to name any of the philanthropists.
The first community that was involved was the community of “Young Israel” from new Rochelle, which was one of the first “hot spots” of the country after the attorney, Lawrence Garbuz infected and infected dozens of other parishioners. Lebowitz said that about 40 parishioners “Young Israel” sacrificed their plasma about three weeks ago. Recent efforts have resulted in more than 120 Hasidic Jews from Monsey and new Skvira, perhaps the most isolated Hasidic village in the County of Rockland, state of new York, spent a whole day to go to Delaware and donate plasma at your nearest blood Bank that was able to take them.
Nukem Lebowitz, 18-year-old son of Chaim Lebovici, was among the donors at the beginning of this week; father published a picture of him on Twitter. On 19 April, the Mayo clinic received 1000 blood samples to test for antibodies from donors in Lakewood, new Jersey, a major center of settlement of Orthodox Jews, to test for antibodies, according to Dr. Mike Joyner, who runs the program for obtaining convalescent plasma in “Mayo”. Testing was carried out by “Leo Rochelle Bikur Holim”, the medical establishment in Lakewood. According to Lebovich, “medical center Refuah Health Center”, based in the neighborhood of Monsey, processed more than 2000 tests. Joyner said he expects to process thousands of tests from Orthodox Jews, and that the contribution of the community in the transformation of new York into the center of the donation of plasma can help people across the country to recover quickly from this disease. He said he wants new York has become the “Saudi Arabia” for the supply of plasma.
Now, when an epidemic of the virus begins to spread rapidly outside of new York city, Lebowitz tries to unite the Orthodox community throughout the country. He had already contacted people in Minnesota, Baltimore, Detroit, Montreal and other locations to spread information about the importance of donation of plasma. Lebowitz, Searle and others have been working not only on Shabbat and the recent Passover holiday, but during these vital events, which in a normal world deserve at least a moment’s pause. Searle said that two weeks ago, he phoned Dr. Joyner from the clinic “Mayo” in 15 minutes after the birth of her daughter at the insistence of his wife. Last week, the last day of Pesach, brother Lebovici Yitzhak died of cancer at the age of 47 years. Since Lebowitz work during the Shiva period of mourning. “He personally asked when I was with him for the last time, that no matter what happens to him, I don’t have to stop the work,” said Lebowitz. The project is now named in honor of brother Lebovici. When this is all over, said Lebowitz, he will stop and you will grieve. But not now. “I don’t think you have the right to be selfish, when at stake is the lives of others,” he says.
© 2020, paradox. All rights reserved.