Moroccan Jewish community seeks marrow donor for young dad

Adam Krief and family
Adam Krief and his family ABRAHAM JOSEPH PAL PHOTO

It’s been a little more than two months since Adam Krief and his young family received the devastating news that he has primary myelofibrosis, a rare blood cancer that can only be cured by a bone marrow transplant.

“His doctors tell him he’s a ticking clock,” said Esther Ohayon, a member of Krief’s large extended family in Toronto, and a member of the Hope 4 Adam campaign team that has been working tirelessly to organize bone marrow drives in hopes of finding a match for the 31-year-old father of three children under the age of four.

“As soon as he was diagnosed, the cancer became really active… [he’s] getting chemotherapy, but the chemotherapy will not save him. It is just to buy some time,” Ohayon said.

Krief and his wife, Lia, who live in Los Angeles, have been working to urge Jewish communities around the world to get swabbed.

“His wife has been amazing… She has stood up before millions of people, pleading with them to get tested.”

Krief’s story is also making the rounds in Hollywood, with a number of high-profile celebrities, including Mayim Bialik, Kendall Jenner, Kirsten Dunst, Nicole Richie, and Jason Biggs, posting links to the Hope 4 Adam Facebook page on their social media accounts.

Since the campaign began, thousands have registered as new potential donors throughout North America, which is helping to build up the bone marrow donor base.

On Aug. 17, there was a drive at the Sephardic Kehilah Centre in Thornhill. Other drives are scheduled for Sept. 11 at Shaarei Shomayim Congregation in Toronto, at Petah Tikva Anshe Castilla Congregation on Sept. 14, and at the Joseph and Wolf Lebovic Jewish Community Campus in Vaughan on Sept. 27.

In addition to countless drives all over the United States and in Israel, Montreal held drives on Sept. 4 at the Emerald Bar, on Sept. 5 at the Chabad of the Town and another drive is scheduled for Sept. 11 at the Montreal Torah Centre.

Ohayon said that as a mother of three young children, she can’t imagine how Krief and his wife are coping with his illness and being in an out of the hospital.

“It’s taking a physical toll on him. He’s starting to feel sick because of the side effects of chemo… We’re just hoping he gets a match and that the match will save his life,” she said.

Sephardi Jews are his best chance for a match, but there have been cases where matches have come from outside a patient’s specific ethnicity.

Ohayon said there are people who are reluctant to get swabbed because they have misconceptions about how invasive the donation process is.

In most cases, it’s blood stem cells, not the actual bone marrow that are transplanted into a patient’s bloodstream.

“I think people don’t know… I’ve spoken to my friends and people are scared. They think it’s similar to a heart transplant or a kidney transplant, and people are scared to come forward. They are unaware that all it is really is taking blood over one or two days. You have an opportunity to save someone’s life with something so simple. We just need that match.”

She said for those who can’t make it to the drives, but still want to get swabbed, will send kits to people between aged 17 to 35.

She explained that in Canada, the registry will only collect samples from people ages 17 to 35, because they are most likely to result in a healthy match. But in the United States, samples are collected from people up to 44 years old. Those who don’t fit these age groups can contact their local bone marrow registry organizations to order a kit and pay for it to be processed.

Ohayon said Hope 4 Adam organizers are working with other organizations in an attempt to offset the costs of swabbing and testing people between 35 and 44 in the Jewish Moroccan community in Canada.

“I spoke to Adam and his wife last week, and they are really praying for the best and trying to stay strong. Like anybody, I’m sure behind closed doors they have their ups and downs and they are terrified of what is going to happen, what the outcome is going to be with three little kids who need their father,” Ohayon said.

“He and his wife are two amazing people, always involved with the community. They are the ones who were always helping other people… they are usually everybody’s rock… Now they are turning to the community for support.”

For more information, visit the Hope 4 Adam Facebook page.