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New $110 Million Israel National Blood Center Breaks Ground

Posted By : Rob Rosenthal November 23, 2016

Magen David Adom broke ground on a new blood bank on November 17 that will house its processing operations in a secure, state-of-the-art underground facility. The MDA Marcus National Blood Services Center, located in Ramla, will be the world’s first fully operational underground blood center.

marcus-blood-center-proposed-designThe groundbreaking is the first step in the actual construction of a facility for which American Friends of Magen David Adom has been fundraising for years. So far, more than $74 million of the estimated $110 million total has been raised.

The new facility is MDA’s most ambitious capital project ever. AFMDA 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.

The building will not only have a processing capacity that’s more than twice as large as its current facility, but will also be fortified again rocket, chemical, and biological attacks.

Magen David Adom Direct-General Eli Bin says the move to build the new facility is driven in part by the fact that Israel’s population is roughly twice as large as when the current facility was built in the mid-1980s, necessitating a blood center with a larger processing capacity. However, more urgently, the building needs to be able to withstand rocket attacks from Israel’s enemies and any chemical or biological payloads they may be carrying.

“Nowhere in Israel is immune from rocket attack,” Bin said, “forcing us to rethink how we could protect the nation’s blood supply.” And in a state that’s seen its share of both wars and mass-casualty terrorist attacks, protecting the blood supply is even more crucially important.

Although Israelis have benefited from the country’s early-warning system and cutting-edge Patriot missile batteries (that literally shoot many incoming rockets out of the sky), these methods are by no means foolproof. In Israel’s last war in 2014, several Hamas rockets landed near Tel Aviv causing Magen David Adom’s blood-processing operations to be moved to a bomb shelter, seriously curtailing output.

During processing, whole units of blood donated by citizens is separated into distinct components — red cells, plasma, and platelets, and typed to ensure that patients are matched with the appropriate blood.

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Mayor of Ramla Yoel Lavi, U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro, Magen David Adom Director-General Eli Bin, and AFMDA board member Gershon Trimpol at the MDA Marcus National Blood Services Center groundbreaking.

“A slowdown in processing is particularly dangerous to the welfare of the state, especially during a war, when the amount of blood needed could potentially at its highest to take care of both wounded civilians and soldiers,” says Prof. Eilat Shinar, MDA’s director of blood services, and the woman who oversees virtually all the blood for Israel.

In addition to being reinforced against rocket attacks, the new Marcus National Blood Services Center — named after a lead, $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 Israel’s hospitals.

The building will also be designed to more stringent building standards for withstanding earthquakes.

“Whether its from war, terrorism, or natural disaster, we know there will come a day when our blood supply will play a critical role in saving thousands of lives, beyond the thousands of lives our blood saves in everyday medical emergencies, such as bypass surgery or treating victims of car accidents,” Shinar says. “No matter what the need, however, we need to be ready, and that begins with protecting our blood supply.”

 

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