Underground blood bank

November 16, 2016 Agencies
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 Israel’s national emergency medicine service Magen David Adom will break ground today on the world’s first innovative underground blood bank facility in Ramla.

mdaWith the constant security threats faced by Israel on all fronts and rapid growth of its population, there is an urgent necessity for a highly secured and technologically advanced underground national blood storage facility to house the state’s self-sufficiency blood supply from voluntary, non-remunerated blood donors.

One of the prime missions of Magen David Adom is running the National Blood Services Center (NBSC) which secures and provides 97% of the increasing requirements for high quality blood units and components needed by Israeli hospitals and the Israel Defense Forces. The existing blood center located in Ramat Gan, collects approximately 295,000 blood units annually, employs 250 employees and volunteers, constantly hosts blood drives, and operates MDA’s advanced blood bank laboratories.

Eli Bin, Director General of Magen David Adom, said: “Israel is constantly gearing up for the next war and the imminent threat of a missile attack on its territory. Magen David Adom, Israel’s national emergency medicine and disaster relief organization, is responsible for functional continuity in times of emergency, and is therefore establishing a complex, first of a kind facility that’s more secure and technologically advanced than any other blood services facility in the world.”

“This,” he continued, “aims to ensure that Israeli citizens will have blood transfusions available to them at 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 the Israeli transfusion requirement is a national goal of the utmost importance.

As it is, NBSC is not suitable to the requirements of the state of Israel as it will not remain intact during an earthquake or missile attack – scenarios that are likely to face Israel within its near future. Although Magen David Adom renovated and upgraded the center to comply with state regulations, it will never meet the security or population requirements without major alterations.

Although this project is of high priority for the Israeli government, it is unable to fund it and therefore, Magen David Adom is responsible for raising the total amount required for the construction of the facility.  $110 million has already been raised by US contributors who also largely funded the current blood center in Ramat Gan, just outside Tel Aviv, which will be used as an annex for the new facility when the new building is completed.

In addition to being reinforced against rocket attacks, the new facility, to be named the Marcus National Blood Services Center after a lead, $25 million gift by the American 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 Israel’s hospitals. Prof. Eilat Shinar, MDA’s director of blood services, emphasized the importance of rapid distribution of blood transfusions: “A slowdown in processing is particularly dangerous to the welfare of the state, especially during a war, when the amount of blood needed is critical to both wounded civilians and soldiers.”

Today’s groundbreaking ceremony will be addressed by U.S. Ambassador to Israel, Daniel Shapiro, and Israeli health minister MK Rabbi Ya’akov Litzman.

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