Brecker is suffering from myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), a rare group of disorders in which the production of blood cells by the bone marrow is disrupted and that sometimes leads to leukemia. He needs a bone-marrow transplant from a donor with a matching genetic type in order to survive, according to family members.
A matching donor is most likely to be found among those who share Brecker's Eastern-European Jewish ancestry.
Genetic samples, taken through a swab of the inner cheek, will be collected at Congregation Keneseth Israel from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on October 30. In addition to finding a match for Brecker, the drive aims to add information about potential donors, particularly of Jewish descent, to a national bone-marrow database.
When a matching donor is found, bone-marrow stem cells may sometimes be collected non-invasively from the blood of the donor; in other cases, marrow must be taken directed from the hip bone.
Congregation Keneseth Israel is located at 8339 Old York Road in Elkins Park, outside Philadelphia. For more information, visit http://www.michaelki.org.