Roy remembers the moment of the attack like it was yesterday. It was a relatively quiet night during the Second Lebanon War when his patrol was ambushed by Hezbollah fighters. When the chaos of the attack subsided, Roy was left with bullet and shrapnel wounds all over his body and he was losing blood dangerously fast. Today, Roy is fully recovered thanks to the blood transfusion from MDAs National Blood Services Center that saved his life.
MDA collects, tests, stores, and distributes 97 percent of the blood for Israels hospitals and 100 percent of the blood supply for the Israel Defense Forces. So Israelis who find themselves in a situation like Roys rely completely on MDA and its single blood center.
That blood center, which serves the entire nation, is at risk. When it was built in the 1980s, no one imagined rockets would one day reach Ramat Gan, outside Tel Aviv. But the Gaza-based terrorists in the summer of 2014 confirmed Israelis worst fears: now theres nowhere in Israel terrorist rockets cant reach.
On the night of July 8, 2014, with Israel under heavy rocket fire, MDA Director General Eli Bin ordered that Israels blood supply be moved to an underground shelter for the remainder of the conflict. This allowed the blood centers critical operations to continue, but calling it a permanent solution is like putting a Band-Aid on a bullet wound.
Must move underground
For Professor Eilat Shinar, MDAs director of blood services, the only solution is to build an underground blood center. When you live in a country with so much uncertainty, you must take every measure to ensure the safety of its people. We dont know what might happen tomorrow, but we must prepare for the worst, she said. The best way I know to do that is by protecting Israels blood supply, and that means moving it underground permanently. A new center means more blood can be processed, better research can be conducted, and more lives will be saved.
Now — before the next war, emergency or natural disaster — is the time to ensure the safety of Israels blood supply. Thats why American Friends of Magen David Adom has launched a $100 million campaign to build a new underground blood center, safe from rocket attacks, chemical warfare and earthquakes. A grassy field in Ramla, south of Ben-Gurion Airport, is ready for the first bricks to be laid as soon as funding is secured.
Imagine Israels blood bank, able to protect and provide enough blood for the states rapidly growing population. Hear the buzz of machinery and the clinking of vials as Israels top hematologists test blood donations for safety. Picture all of this housed underground, behind reinforced walls, and with air-filtration systems capable of protecting against chemical attacks. AFMDA supporters are working hard to make this dream a reality in order to ensure that every injured Israeli can get the lifesaving blood transfusion he or she needs.
Roy and Chana and many others
The people served by MDAs blood bank arent always soldiers. Chana, a mother, grandmother and great-grandmother, followed her two daughters to Israel after they made aliyah so she could spend more time with them and her 11 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. My heart and soul have been united here, she said.
But in 2009, Chanas idyllic life in Israel was interrupted by a traumatic accident. While crossing the street to get a cab, she was hit by a car and broke the windshield with her body. Bleeding profusely, she was rushed to the hospital and got an emergency transfusion of three blood units. Thanks to an anonymous blood donor, Chanas condition was stabilized. But it took a 120-day stay in the hospital to recover fully. Part of what sustained her during that time was the knowledge that it was all possible thanks to the miracle of blood donation.
When she got out of the hospital, Chana knew she wanted to help make that miracle happen for others in her situation. I decided to volunteer to help collect blood for Israel because I realized that the need was so great, she said.
In fact, Magen David Adom provides about 300,000 units of blood to Israeli hospitals and the IDF each year. The process begins at bloodmobiles stationed around the country, where volunteer donors roll up their sleeves to give blood. The blood is brought to the MDA National Blood Services Center, where its tested to ensure its safe for transfusion. The donations that meet the rigorous standards then get separated into three components: red blood cells, platelets and plasma. This allows doctors to provide more targeted treatment, depending on the reason for the transfusion. Stored in the blood center, the blood components are ready for when a call comes in that blood is urgently needed to save a life.
Roy, the soldier, helps answer that call on a regular basis. The same blood that saved Roys life years ago is reviving other Israelis in need. A regular blood donor before the war, he resumed giving blood every few months as soon as he was healthy enough. It doesnt matter if youre a banker or a postman or a soldier in the Israel Defense Forces. If you need blood or emergency assistance in Israel, you can count on MDA, Roy says.
The new MDA blood center isnt just about blood — its about giving people like Roy and Chana a second chance at life. Ensuring the safety of Israels blood supply for generations to come is an important step in making sure that Israel remains the inspiring, vibrant nation it is.
Contact AFMDA at 866-6322763 for a confidential conversation about how you can help build Israels new blood services center.
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