“To save one life is tantamount to saving a whole world.” – Talmud (Sanhedrin 37a)
To have the opportunity to save just one life is an incredible blessing but Brother Raphael Eidelman (CSUN, 2023) has saved a world twice by donating to the Gift of Life Bone Marrow Registry.
Going to California State University – Northridge, Brother Eidelman felt a disconnect from people. It was difficult for him to connect with people on a deeper level. He rushed AEPi because one of his friends who joined at Drexel told him to while Brother Eidelman was in high school. “I walked up to where AEPi was tabling and I met two of the Brothers. I barely met them and already I felt like I wanted to join. That’s how instant the draw to AEPi was for me. I feel like there was an extra connection to Judaism, that I could connect so quickly to the guys. I’ve never felt validation before in that way and I felt like these guys genuinely wanted to get to know me.”
Brother Eidelman is no stranger to philanthropy. Previously serving as Lieutenant Master, Brother Eidelman dabbled in every minor board position including philanthropy chair. “I’d say philanthropy was by far the most stimulating. I had a budget and I wanted to go all out for it. We did an AEPi Carnival Extravaganza. We rented a mechanical bull, a dunk tank and a bunch of carnival games which we put in our backyard of the house. We teamed up with a sorority and had a competition between the sororities to see how long they could stay on a mechanical bull. It was really fun and we raised a lot of money for a good cause. Everyone had a great time and it was great publicity too.”
Brother Eidelman had previously known about Gift of Life but was scared off by the thought of the bone marrow extraction process. He didn’t swab to join the registry until he joined AEPi. A year and a half later he had forgotten about it but then he got an email saying that he was a match. “It hit me that I’m a match to somebody that’s dying. I was matched with someone who was 65 years old and could get at least 10 to 15 more years with my donation. I felt like anybody in their right mind would make that choice to donate.”
Five days prior to donating, Brother Eidlemen got injections of Neupogen which increases stem cell production in his bones so he could give stem cells without jeopardizing his own. Two days before donating, Brother Eidelman, at no expense to him, was flown with a person of his choice to the Gift of Life donation center in Florida. “I’m a super donor… so what usually is 16 hours worth of donating turned into four hours. You just sit there, hooked up to two IVs – one is drawing blood filtering out the stem cells and putting the rest back into your other arm. You just basically watch TV the whole time. It’s very easy.” The recovery process for stem cell donation is not long either with a full recovery the next day. “I actually saved one life twice. I donated to the same guy battling leukemia. So I went and donated to him in April and again three months ago to boost his immune system.”
“If you have the chance, it takes zero effort to swab. If you get matched, the right decision is saving a life. Think about your own life if somebody you really cared about came down with a disease and they had a chance to survive. What if the possible life saving person said no? I feel like there’s a right answer. If you get chosen, saving a life is worth a couple hours of discomfort. Put yourself in the family’s shoes and you’ll see the importance.”
Brother Eidelman’s chapter has been extremely supportive to him through all of this. “The Brothers are there to support you, especially if you put a lot into AEPi as I have. I feel like I’m getting way more of a return than I gave. I couldn’t have done it without the Brotherhood and I wouldn’t have made it to where I am today without the Brotherhood. Honestly, joining AEPi is the best independent decision I’ve ever made in my life. The Brothers have given me the confidence to do this.”