Magen David Adom (MDA) dedicated the world’s first subterranean and shielded national blood services center in Ramla on May 2. The Marcus National Blood Services Center is designed to protect Israel’s strategic blood reserves from missile, chemical and biological attacks – as well as earthquakes. Three of the building’s six floors were built underground in successively more secure levels. The facility was constructed at a cost of $135 million, funded primarily by American Friends of Magen David Adom (AFMDA).
The inauguration ceremony was attended by Israel’s President Isaac Herzog, Defense Minister Benny Gantz, Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz, US Ambassador Thomas R. Nides, and 500 VIPs and American donors.
“I am so delighted to join you in inaugurating the Marcus National Blood Services Center, which embodies the most moving essence of our shared humanity,” Herzog said. “To receive a blood transfusion – the irreplaceable gift of life – from complete strangers is a stark reminder that we are one living, breathing tapestry of humanity, now safeguarded in this impressive new center.”
The center bears the name of Bernie Marcus, the founder of Home Depot, and his wife, Billi, who together donated $35 million. “I am happy that we participated, from the very start, in the construction of this wonderful building, where Israel’s blood supply will be protected for all its citizens – Jews, Christians and Muslims alike,” Bernie Marcus said.
Other significant contributions were made by Dr. Miriam Adelson and her late husband, Sheldon, the Leona M. & Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust, and Bloomberg Philanthropies, Michael R. Bloomberg’s charitable organization. Another 600 major gifts were donated by Americans, 25 of which were a million dollars or more.
“The Marcus National Blood Services Center will enable Magen David Adom to save countless lives during times of war and peace,” said Catherine Reed, CEO of AFMDA. “Blood is the essence of life, our most precious gift. We must do everything possible to preserve it. History has taught us to always be prepared, and no country on Earth has ever been this proactive in protecting its blood supply.”
The current national blood services facility in Ramat Gan was built four decades ago and can no longer meet the demands of Israel’s growing population or its security needs in times of war. The Marcus Center is shielded with extra-thick concrete walls, blast doors and airlocks, in addition to biological and chemical protection that extends across the three underground floors.
The three above-ground floors house the Human Milk Bank, where mothers’ milk is collected for premature and ill infants, as well as the blood donation center, administrative offices, conference rooms and dining halls.
The first underground floor has shielded blood bank laboratories, a transportation center, and secure fleet parking, where all new ambulances are fully equipped. The second underground floor has the Cord Blood Inventory, an R&D molecular lab, and a chemical and biological warfare air-filtration system that enables staff throughout the building to continue working and processing blood in the event of a chemical or biological attack.
At the heart of the third and deepest level lies the Blood Storage Vault, a 300-square-meter safe room shielded against the most severe missile threats, in which Israel’s strategic inventory of 25,000 blood components will be safeguarded in times of war.
The new center aims to double the country’s annual blood-processing capacity that could potentially save tens of thousands of lives every year. “Magen David Adom and the people of Israel are indebted to our friends in the Diaspora for making this dream a reality,” said Eli Bin, director-general of MDA. “The Marcus National Blood Services Center will ensure constant blood supplies under almost any scenario.”