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Marcus Foundation Makes Historic $25 Million Grant To Build MDA’s New National Blood Services Center

Posted By : Erik Levis March 7, 2016

Amid an ongoing wave of terror in Israel, American Friends of Magen David Adom (AFMDA) has received a $25 million gift from the Atlanta-based Marcus Foundation to help Magen David Adom (MDA) build a critically needed new national blood center in Israel. The historic grant is the largest-ever benefitting MDA, Israel’s 86-year old national ambulance, blood-services, and disaster-relief agency. The grant was announced at AFMDA’s annual Boca-Delray Community Event on February 29 at St. Andrews Country Club in Boca Raton, Fla. Billi and Bernie Marcus, the Foundation’s co-founders, were honored with the Humanitarian of the Year award at the dinner.

The new building, to be named the Marcus National Blood Services Center, will be located in Ramla, in central Israel. The current blood center, in Tel HaShomer and built in 1987 with funding from AFMDA, is vulnerable to attack as rockets fired from Gaza during Israel’s conflict with Hamas terrorists in 2014 forced MDA to quickly move the country’s blood supply and its blood-processing operations into subterranean bomb shelters.

The blood supply, which is most commonly used to treat accident victims and people undergoing surgery, including soldiers from the Israeli Defense Forces, is seen as especially crucial to Israel, which has had to contend with intermittent periods of terrorism and multiple armed conflicts since its founding in 1948. And that, in particular, has made building a new blood center a national security priority for Israel.

The current facility also no longer accommodates Israel’s growing population, which has grown from 4.1 million people in the late 1980s to 8.5 million, today. Israel’s population is expected to reach 10 million by 2030.

The current building is also problematic in that it doesn’t meet Israel’s current codes for earthquake compliance, a challenge in a country that sits on two active seismic fault lines, a real and imminent danger that’s been overshadowed by the wars and terrorist attacks Israelis have had to endure.

The new blood center will be a safe, underground, and secure complex, complete with sophisticated ventilation systems in the event of chemical attacks, but also housing state-of-the-art laboratories and blood-processing units. And as Israelis continue dealing with a deadly wave of terrorist stabbings, shootings, and car-rammings in which 33 civilians have been killed since mid-September, the need for a clean and reliable blood supply has only been reinforced.

“We are overwhelmingly indebted to The Marcus Foundation for their remarkable generosity in making the largest gift in AFMDA’s history,” said AFMDA CEO David M. Frankel. “It speaks to MDA’s critical role in Israel as one of the country’s most important national organizations. But it also recognizes the leadership and vision of the Marcus family, and other donors like them, who have taken meaningful action to help alleviate the daily threat faced by Israelis.”

MDA is Israel’s national ambulance, blood-services, and disaster-relief organization, whose mission is to save lives. MDA also operates Israel’s national blood supply, providing 97 percent of civilian blood and 100 percent of the blood for the IDF. While government-mandated to provide these essential services, MDA is not government-funded.

The new blood center capital campaign is the most ambitious fundraising project in MDA history, with a goal of raising $115 million for construction of the new blood center. With the Marcus Foundation gift AFMDA has now raised $72 million toward the goal of building the new facility.

“MDA ensures that the people of Israel have a secure blood supply — the blood they need, when they need it,” Mr. Marcus said.

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