Magen David Adom to construct world’s first underground blood bank

“With all blood transfusions stored in an underground space, the facility will ensure that they remain unharmed even when the building is under a massive barrage of missiles."

November 15, 2016 23:42
3 minute read.
MDA ambulance

A Magen David Adom ambulance stands by near the Western Wall. (photo credit: MAGEN DAVID ADOM)

Magen David Adom will on Wednesday hold a cornerstone-laying ceremony in Ramle for the world’s first underground blood bank. With the constant security threats faced by Israel on all fronts and rapid growth of its population, the first-aid, ambulance and blood-supply organization decided there is an urgent necessity for a highly secured and technologically advanced underground national blood storage facility to house the state’s blood supply from voluntary donors.

The ceremony will include US Ambassador to Israel Daniel Shapiro and Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman.

MDA’s National Blood Services Center collects and provides 97% of the country’s requirements for blood units and components needed by hospitals and the Israel Defense Forces. The existing blood center Ramat Gan collects some 295,000 blood units each year, employs 250 employees and volunteers, organizes blood drives and operates advanced blood bank laboratories.

MDA director Eli Bin said that the future center will aim to ensure that Israelis have blood transfusions available to them under any circumstance or time of need.

“With all blood transfusions stored in an underground space, the facility will ensure that they remain unharmed even when the building is under a massive barrage of missiles. Securing the national blood center to prevent blood shortage and meet our transfusion requirements is a national goal of the utmost importance,” he said on Tuesday.

The center in Ramat Gan is not suitable to the country’s requirements, as it likely would not remain intact during an earthquake or missile attack – scenarios that are likely to face Israel within its near future, he said. Although MDA renovated and upgraded the center to comply with state regulations, “it will never meet the security or population requirements without major alterations.”

MDA must raise the total amount required for the construction of the facility. American Friends of Magen David Adom (AFMDA) has so far raised $74 million of the needed $110 million.

In addition to being reinforced against rocket attacks, the new facility – to be named the Marcus National Blood Services Center after a $25 million gift by Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus and his wife Billi – will be closer to Israel’s main highways to help distribute blood more rapidly to hospitals.

MDA’s director of blood services, Prof. Eilat Shinar, stressed that a slowdown in processing is particularly dangerous, especially during a war, when the amount of blood needed is critical to both wounded civilians and soldiers.

In addition, on Monday, international Magen David Adom representatives joined Bin, Netherlands’ Ambassador to Israel Gilles Beschoor Plug, and Baka al-Gharbiya Mayor Mursi Abu Mukh to dedicate a new MDA station in the northern city funded by Netherlands Friends of MDA.

The building, strategically located in a junction between Route 6 and Route 9, will serve the 35,000 residents of the city, as well as the surrounding area, making emergency medical care accessible in a very short arrival time. The station also will carry out humanitarian activities such as collecting and distributing food donations and teaching first-aid courses in local schools.

“Magen David Adom is about saving lives regardless of background, religion or culture,” said Beschoor Plug. I see great importance in the close relationship of the people of Netherlands and the people of Israel. I am proud to be here for the inauguration of an MDA station donated by the Netherlands FMDA.”

City mayor Mursi Abu Much added that “the message here is that Muslims, Jews and Christians can do great things in this world. Today is living proof that we are uniting in order to do good despite what is happening in the world.”

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