WILLIAMSBURG — When Alexander Berman lived in New York, he often performed in Williamsburg. Now a resident of Princeton, N.J., his performances most often take place on the floor of the living room with his young twin sons as the audience.
Berman, 33, has been battling Hodgkin’s lymphoma since 2000. He lives life to the fullest, although he doesn’t have the energy to be as active as he’d like to be. He loves to spend time with his wife, Brannan, and their young boys, and to read, write, play music and meditate.
In 2001, he underwent two back-to-back bone marrow transplants in which his own bone marrow was harvested, treated and returned to his body. Now, however, doctors say an “allogeneic” bone marrow transplant — one from a donor — is critical to his survival.
Most fortunately, his sister, Lielle, is a perfect donor match, and the transplant is scheduled to take place Friday.
However, an allogeneic bone marrow transplant costs approximately $800,000. Even with health coverage, Berman faces significant expenses related to the surgery, including follow-up care and medications to ensure that his body accepts the new bone marrow.
When he receives his transplant, he must temporarily relocate across country to be near the transplant center in Seattle, incurring substantial travel expenses and forcing him to be without 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 has 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.
“Alexander has faced more obstacles in the past 12 years than most people face in a lifetime,” said Kay Horne, NFT fundraising consultant.
“Dealing with a life-threatening illness is terrifying in itself, but he has the added stress of mounting medical bills. 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 “Merch Mart,” a fundraising event on Sunday, Feb. 12, from 1 to 6 p.m. at Bar Matchless, 557 Manhattan Ave. in Williamsburg. The event will feature various bands that Berman has collaborated with in the past, including Matt and Kamara from Earl Greyhound, Marcellus Hall, Chris Leo, Monuments, Serena Jean Southam and more.
There is no admission to the Sunday fundraiser, but donations are strongly encouraged. Bands will be selling their merchandise, and proceeds will be donated to NFT in Berman’s honor. Refreshments will be available for purchase, and the event will include raffles whose prizes include dinner for two at local restaurants Mesa Cayoacan and Bread; drink tickets and bottles of wine at Night of Joy and The Soho Grand Hotel; hand-crafted jewelry; Van Leeuwen ice cream; and more.
A secure tax-deductible donation can be made at www.transplants.org. Donors should click on “Patients We Help” to locate Berman.
For more information about NFT, visit www.transplants.org.