Today was officially the hottest day on the West Coast of America ever recorded. Big Country
was booked into an outdoor open air show at Wiens Family Cellars, in the wine country of Temecula, California. The only thing I wanted to do was stay in my dressing room and soak up the air conditioning.
The upside was that there was a fast internet connection…. so I got to have a great Facetime chat with my little guys back in Wales. They had so much to tell me, and I had so much to tell them. I showed the boys how to flip the screen on the iPhone so that they could film each other and show me what was happening in their lives. I got to see pictures from school, Dylan (pictured below) with his ‘Players Player of the Year’ soccer trophy (you can’t imagine how proud I felt). Evan turned the camera towards Dylan playing the Welsh National Anthem on guitar (“I can’t do that” I tell them….), Dylan even rattled off the Big Country riff for ‘Home Of The Brave’ just for me. Evan then took the camera into the playroom to show me the devastation of his playmobile castle that was wrecked by his friends
“Daaaaad….can you build it for me when you get home,Daaaad?” says Evan. Heart wrenching stuff when you are 6,000 miles away.
Dylan Ap Michael Peters (Aged 9)
Evan Ap Michael Peters (Aged 6)
The heat continued to drive everyone indoors. I answered some emails and threw a reminder out to James and Shannon to look into the possibility of hosting the world’s longest ever donor drive sometime in the future. I Googled a few things to see if anyone had ever done anything like that before, and came across this very interesting article. It was about donor drives in Israel, being run by a Dr. Amal Bishara.
BONE MARROW REGISTRY IN JERUSALEM OFFERS HOPE TO ARAB CANCER PATIENTS
When Suleika Jaouad (http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/author/suleika-jaouad/
), a 24-year-old writer, found out she would need a bone marrow transplant to cure her cancer, doctors told her that her mixed ethnicity — Tunisian and Swiss — could make it difficult to find an unrelated donor. Fortunately, Jaouad’s brother turned out to be a perfect match. But for the roughly 40% of Arab patients who cannot find a match in their own family, the odds of finding an unrelated match are not in their favor.
It can be hard for Arab cancer patients to find a genetically compatible donor — and even harder for interracial Arabs like Jaouad — on international bone marrow registries, since Arabs make up only a tiny portion of registered donors. In fact, the only extensive unrelated Arab bone marrow registry is located in the Arab world’s least favorite country — Israel.
Dr. Amal Bishara, an Israeli Arab, launched the Hadassah Medical Center’s Arab bone marrow registry in 2008 in Jerusalem. Through more than 90 awareness campaigns and bone marrow drives in Israel and the West Bank, she has succeeded in enrolling 23,094 Arab donors, some 4,000 of whom are currently being evaluated for their human leukocyte antigen (HLA), the tissue that determines the degree of match between a bone marrow recipient and donor. So far, the Hadassah registry has matched 105 Arab donors with Arab and non-Arab patients in Israel and abroad. 22 of these matched donors went through with the process, donating their bone marrow or peripheral blood stem cells to local and international Arabs, and also to non-Arabs.
“The response of the local Arab community was more than expected, and [the] only limitation for continuous donor recruitment is shortage of funding; the cost of HLA typing of each recruited donor is $50,” said Bishara. “Most of the matched donors were cooperative and were willing to proceed with further testing and donation.”
Despite travel restrictions between Israel and the Palestinian territories, Bishara has been able to reach the West Bank. She conducted a donor drive in Ramallah (gaining 400 donors) and in Beit-Sahour (75 donors), and has recruited donors from Hebron. Recently, a 9-year-old Arab girl from the West Bank— who suffered from a genetic blood disorder — found a match through Bishara’s registry after waiting her entire life.
Still, Bishara said: “One big limitation is collecting blood sample from donors from the West Bank, once they are match, since they do not have a permit to come to Jerusalem.” Additionally, she has been unable to reach Gaza, because it is under siege and difficult to reach from Israel.
It’s a really interesting piece and you can read the whole thing here.
Reading it for myself really fired up my imagination, so I wrote to Shannon and James Chippendale at LHS HQ, and floated with the idea of having Israel be our next big LHS Rocks destination. It would be a very powerful and rewarding way of LHS working with musicians, in a culture and environment that really needs the kind of help and drive that is unique to the Love Hope Strength Community. I’m going to do all that I can to make this work.
As showtime came closer, I was joined in the dressing room by an old friend, Richard Blade– who I met when he was a DJ at the world famous KROQ back in 1983. Richard also put together the Bands Reunited VH1 program that enabled the original line up of The Alarm to perform together for ‘One Night Only’. Richard was here to host the show and interviewed me for his national radio show (which goes out every day on Sirius Satellite Radio across America). It turned into another great night for Big Country.
Photo: Richard Blade and Mike Peters
Photo: Mike Peters Guitar
Photo: Mike Peters on stage with Big Country
It was a beautiful stage, set under American skies, and the music was elevated in the atmosphere that was created by the ambience of the heat from the setting sun. Tonight we played two sets so that the event organizers could host an auction that would benefit a local charity. During the break, I went to the ‘Get On The List’ booth to chat to a whole bunch of interesting people. Interesting people who signed up to the registry, which was once again, being run by the ever dependable Ruth Oakes, Alan Robinson (who was on Everest Rocks 2), and Marissa Rawson (who was also at Vail Rocks with Alan).
I went back to join the band for the second part of the show and there was a stage invasion from the audience, but instead, Big Country invaded the audience for a closing photo session before we said goodnight. We invited Richard Blade back to the stage for one last group shot. There was a thousand stars in the night sky…..
Photo: Richard Blade with Big Country
Big Country Tour Dates
Be a Donor-Get On The List! Campaign
Love Hope Strength
The Alarm Official Web site
Love Hope Strength Video Trailer See the video here
Mike Peters appears at House of Commons for Marrow Drive to Celebrate Parliament Increasing Eligibility Requirements of Donors in the UK from 17-30 to 17-55 years of age BBC News
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