Bone Marrow Courier Flies For 77 Consecutive Days Saving Lives

Anna Kroupina, Open Jaw

Photo credit: Submitted by Mishel Zrian to CBCNews

Despite the pandemic, Mishel Zrian is on day 77 of non-stop travel around the globe.

His round-the-world trip is not for fun though. Zrian volunteered to deliver life saving bone marrow for Ezer Minion, the world’s largest Jewish bone marrow donor registry.

Finding the right match for bone marrow transplants is difficult and timing is everything. Patients can die if they don't receive a transplant within 72 hours of having the bone marrow removed. 

While saving lives gives him the strength to keep going, travel in the time of COVID-19 is far from easy. 

Food, sleep and spare clothing are scarce as he races around the world while navigating all the restrictions. He often sleeps in empty airports and nearby hotels and has more than once gone 24 hours without food. 

"All my life is in a small sport bag," he said, adding that he cleans his jeans, which have been with him for 77 days now, in the sinks and bathtubs of his hotel rooms with shampoo. 

There was one week where he slept on an airplane every night.

But to him, it's worth it to "save lives."

"I've sat in 65 flights and saved 21 patients," he told As It Happens host Carol Off. "Those people would die. Now in the [coronavirus] time, there's no flights and it's very difficult to move this bone marrow and that's the reason the government of Israel allowed me to do that and keep me in a room in the airport … If I don't do that, people will die."

But nothing is more difficult than being away from his family.

"When you speak with me about my children I start to cry," he said. "My family knows what I am doing and are proud of me and support me all the time and this makes me more strong."

It's stories like this that remind us that air travel is more than just a conduit for vacations.

Anna Kroupina

Anna Kroupina Journalist

Anna is OJ's newest member and she joins the team as a writer/reporter. She co-writes the daily news and covers events. Although she's new to the industry, pursuing a career path in travel/tourism has been a goal since her first family road trip to the Florida Keys sparked a desire to discover the world and this exhilarating, fast-paced industry.

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