Cheek swabs for Murray

The Ultimate Community Gift

Last week, 270 community members attended Kehillat Kadimah for a cheek swab drive to provide DNA samples in the hope of finding a match for Murray Foltyn.

  • Community members at the Sydney cheek swab drive
    Community members at the Sydney cheek swab drive

Gift of Life Australia (GOLA) has carried out two blood drives in Sydney this month for Murray Foltyn, a 41-year-old father of two young children, who has a rare blood cancer and is in urgent need of a life-saving stem cell match.

Further GOLA blood drives are taking place in Melbourne and Perth.

But in Australia, people usually need to provide a blood sample to join the Australian Bone Marrow Donor Registry (ABMDR).

This is not world’s best practice, according to GOLA chairman Richard Glass, who said most western countries collect samples by cheek swab. Gift of Life USA has been doing so for over 20 years.

“Cheek swabs are significantly more user-friendly, less expensive, vastly more scalable and can be done in the comfort of your own home,” he said.

GOLA did participate in a pilot cheek swab program in 2020 which he said was a great success. But the Federal Government did not give the green light for the ongoing utilisation of swabs.

“This is difficult to justify, and Australia lags the western world,” Glass said.

Blood drives at Wolper Jewish Hospital

“Lives will be lost if the Federal Government does not enable the general rollout of cheek swabs.”

Last week, the ABMDR granted GOLA and the Foltyn family the opportunity to do a cheek swab drive with 270 community members attending Kehillat Kadimah to provide DNA samples in the hope of finding a match.

The process was so efficient that each registrant was only onsite for 15 minutes.

“This event was a clear demonstration of both the power of community and the many advantages of acquiring registrants by using cheek swabs – the sheer volumes that are possible increases the chances of a match particularly when the event is as targeted as this was,” Glass said.

Claudia Milunsky, wife of Murray Foltyn, added, “Our family cannot thank enough those people who have come forward. We need to have as many people sampled as possible and ask anyone aged 18-35 years who is not already on the Registry to please go to the Lifeblood centres to donate blood and ask to be put on the ABMD register.

“For Murray, time is of the essence.”

The Melbourne drive is happening today (March 22). Please complete the survey to register

The Perth drive will take place on March 26. Please complete the survey to register

For more information about getting tested visit

Around the world

A match in another country is just as good as a match in Australia, so please get tested and pass the links on.

United States

There are key donor drives happening in the US via Gift of Life. For more information, visit

Otherwise, it’s a simple cheek swab. Visit

United Kingdom –

Israel –

South Africa –

Slovakia –

Russia –

Everywhere else –

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