Students plan pancake breakfast to help transplant recipient

Stamford, Conn., March 22, 2012 – Alexander Berman doesn’t take one moment for granted. Thanks to his sister, he recently received a lifesaving bone marrow transplant. The costs are overwhelming, so volunteers are planning a pancake breakfast to help. 

Berman, 33, has been battling Hodgkin’s lymphoma since 2000, which has taken a toll on his quality of life. In 2001, he underwent two back-to-back autologous bone marrow transplants, meaning his own bone marrow was harvested, treated and returned to his body. Years later, doctors said an allogeneic bone marrow transplant was critical to his survival, which meant he’d need bone marrow from a donor. Thankfully, his sister, Lielle, was a perfect donor match and donated some of her own bone marrow to save her brother’s life on Feb. 10.

Throughout these challenges, Berman has remained positive and is determined to keep fighting. He is thankful for the love and support of his wife, Brannan, and their young twin sons, who mean the world to them. Although he doesn’t have the energy to be as active as he’d like, he loves to spend time with his boys, read, write, play music and meditate.

An allogeneic bone marrow costs approximately $800,000. Even with health coverage, he faces significant expenses related to the surgery. Berman will need follow-up care and vital medications to ensure that his body accepts the new bone marrow.

When he received his transplant, he had to temporarily relocate nearly 3,000 miles from his home to be near the hospital in Seattle, incurring substantial travel expenses and forcing him to be away from his family for at least four months during the recovery process. Although he enjoyed working as a musician and a teacher, he is currently unable to work, adding to the financial strain.

To help alleviate the financial burden, Berman turned to the National Foundation for Transplants (NFT) for assistance with some of these financial burdens. NFT is a nonprofit organization that helps patients raise funds to pay for transplant-related expenses.

“Of course, we’re thrilled that Alexander received his transplant,” said Kay Horne, NFT fundraising consultant. “But he still faces significant expenses, and those can be financially devastating. At NFT, we’re helping the Bermans raise the necessary funds so they can focus on his health and their family without constantly worrying about the expenses.”
Volunteers are planning a pancake breakfast Saturday, March 31 from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at Turn of River Middle School, 117 Vine Rd. Admission is $10 and includes a homemade breakfast of pancakes, sausage, muffins, fruit and coffee/tea/hot chocolate or juice.

The school’s Rachel’s Challenge club is coordinating this event. Berman’s close friend Dave Edelson teaches 8th grade at the school. When students learned about Berman’s story, they were eager to help.
Rachel’s Challenge is based on the writings of 17-year-old Rachel Scott, the first victim of the Columbine High School shooting on April 20, 1999, which killed 15 individuals and injured another 21 people. Immediately after the tragedy, her father began to speak around the nation and used writings and drawings from Scott’s many diaries to illustrate the need for a kinder, more compassionate nation.

“I have this theory that if one person can go out of their way to show compassion, then it will start a chain reaction of the same. People will never know how far a little kindness can go,” Scott once wrote in a school essay.

Turn of River Middle School has nearly 45 members of the club. For more information about the fundraiser, please contact Sharon Wade at SWade@ci.stamford.ct.us.

To make a tax-deductible donation in honor of Berman, please send a contribution to the NFT New Jersey Transplant Fund, 5350 Poplar Ave., Suite 430, Memphis, TN 38119. Please be sure to write “in honor of Alexander Berman” on the memo line. Secure donations also can be made online at www.transplants.org. Donors should select “Find or Become an NFT Patient” to locate Berman.

About NFT
NFT is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization based in Memphis, Tenn. that has been helping transplant patients overcome financial obstacles since 1983. NFT provides fundraising expertise and advocacy to transplant patients by organizing fundraising campaigns in the patients’ own communities. NFT’s fundraising campaigns have generated nearly $60 million to assist patients.

NFT assists more than 2,500 transplant candidates and recipients nationwide. For more information about NFT, please call 800-489-3863 or visit www.transplants.org.

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