Magen David Adom’s new Bernie and Billi Marcus National Blood Services Center The dedication has taken place of the underground blood bank, the first of its kind in the world
The dedication has taken place of the new Blood Services building in the “MDA quarter” in Ramle * In this location, the protected, underground blood bank, the first of its kind in the world, will begin operations * The new building will allow for increased operations, the implementation of new technologies, will provide protection and security, and will also contain MDA’s Logistics Center * Among those present at the dedication ceremony were the President of the State of Israel, Minister of Defense, Minister of Health, Members of the Knesset, donors, MDA’s friends from around the world, MDA senior staff, Ramle’s Mayor and Chief Rabbi, and other dignitaries
Throughout the year, MDA Blood Services in Israel collect over a quarter of a million (some 270,000) units of blood, of which 71% are donated by males and 29% by females, 93% are donated in Magen David Adom’s Blood Mobiles as opposed to 7% at MDA stations. Another statistic shows the 26% of donors are in the IDF, while the rest, 74%, are civilians. Also noteworthy is that 81% are returning donors, not giving blood for the first time, while the rest are new donors.
The dedication ceremony of the building, named in honor of Bernie and Billi Marcus, was held on Monday evening in Ramle. The building spreads across 48,000m2, is protected and can withstand earthquakes. Three of the six floors are built underground.
The event was the Blood Services’ building’s dedication. It is the first of its kind in the world to be underground and protected. The new building will allow for increased activity, providing an all-encompassing response to the needs of the health and medical services in Israel and in the IDF, alongside demographic changes such as the natural increase in Israel’s population. Advanced laboratories will operate in the new Blood Services building, along with some of the world’s most advanced, unique equipment and technology, in order to guarantee the quality and safety of the blood units.
MDA’s current Blood Services building was built in the 80s of the previous century and is not large enough to cope with the growing population’s demand. During military escalations over the past few years, the staff was forced to move the activity to bomb shelters in the ageing building, to reset the testing machines and then restart activities in the small shelter, and would then have to restart again when moving back to ground level.
In the new building, which was started in 2018, the Blood Services laboratories are underground. The new, protected building will allow regular activities to continue even during raised security threats, and there will be advanced equipment that will allow for rapid testing of the blood units. MDA’s Blood Services will have the ability to increase work production and in future will be able to produce half a million units of blood annually. MDA’s National Human Milk Bank and the public cord-blood bank that is also operated by Magen David Adom will move to the new Blood Services building, as well as MDA’s logistics operation, which will make this Magen David Adom’s central logistics center.
The cost of the Marcus National Blood Services Center (MNBSC) is $130 million, donated by generous donors led by the American Friends of Magen David Adom along with other Friends' Societies from around the world. Among them are Bernie and Billi Marcus, Dr. Miriam Adelson and her late husband Sheldon Z’’L, and many others. The building contains three underground floors that are safe and protected, including a globally unique cold-storage room that can, in times of emergency, hold tens of thousands of blood units. The new Blood Services building will be able to function during emergencies and security escalations, and can keep up full and independent production using generators for the advanced equipment, and without relying on external factors. Magen David Adom, as Israel’s National Rescue Service, is committed to working 24/7, around the clock, especially during times of crisis, leading to the planning and building of the blood bank with a special emphasis placed on continuing operations in emergency situations.
The blood donations room, accessible to the public, will operate at the entrance level of the building and allow members of the public to give blood. The laboratories and a secure, 400m2 cold room that is protected from threats, a transport center and parking for new equipped ambulances will all operate from the underground floors.
The special ceremony took place in the presence of the President of Israel Isaac Herzog, Defense Minister Benny Gantz, Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz, Members of the Knesset, honored donors, general manager of the Health Ministry Prof. Nahman Ash, Chief Medical Officer of the IDF Prof. Alon Glazberg, Deputy Chief Medical Officer of the IDF Dr. Noam Fink, Home Front Regional Command Medical Officer Dr. Tomer Koler, Hospital and HMO managers, Mayor of Ramle Michael Vidal and its Chief Rabbi Abuchatzeira, MDA President Avi Zohar, Chairman of the MDA Executive Committee Rabbi Avraham Manela, MDA Director General Eli Bin, Deputy Director General of MDA Blood Services Prof. Eilat Shinar and other honored guests.
Ziv Shilon served as an IDF officer in the Givati Brigade, was seriously injured and lost an arm to an explosive device during fighting in the Gaza Strip in 2012. He told how his life was saved thanks to the many units of blood that he received during his medical treatment. Mayor of Ramle, Mr. Michael Vidal greeted those present, and the town’s Chief Rabbi placed the Mezuza at the main entrance to the building.
The main donors in whose honor the building is named, Bernie and Billi Marcus: “On a visit many years ago to Israel’s blood bank, amid the missile and rocket attacks, I realized how delicate and vulnerable the blood system was. 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.”
The sons of Bernie and Billi Marcus, Fred and Michael, and their granddaughter Chana: “The blood is life for all living beings. Thanks to the blood we become whole. Magen David Adom represents the best of Israel and its people. Our family has many roots in Israel and this is a gift to Israel from our family. This relationship connects us to Israel, all of us together to reach our aim. Magen David Adom’s Blood Services show humanity at its best. We and the other donors are proud and excited to take part in the mitzvah of kindness and charity. Blood is the lifeline, and Magen David Adom is the agent. This is one of our family’s most significant donations. We are proud to be here this evening and to strengthen our relationship with our family, the Jewish people in Israel.”
CEO of American Friends of Magen David Adom, Catherine Reed: “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 Marcus National Blood Services Center will enable Magen David Adom to save countless lives during times of war and peace, thanks to the Marcus’s and the generous support of each and every one of our committed American donors."
MDA Deputy Director General of Blood Services, Prof. Eilat Shinar: “The new Marcus National Blood Center is a substantial leap forwards. The new installment has been planned in such a way as to ensure the continuous supply of blood units and blood products to all hospitals and the IDF, throughout peace and emergency times for the coming decades. We are grateful to all our donors in the Friends’ Societies in Israel and across the world, and in particular to the donors in AFMDA who allowed us to make this dream into a reality and to build a protected, modern blood bank, with advanced laboratories that will allow for new technologies, in order to continue to supply blood units and supplies to anyone who needs them to save their life.”
Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz: “I am pleased, in the name of the health service in Israel to mark the dedication of MDA’s new Blood Services building. The building can continue to work underground during war times and provide blood supplies in the coming decades. This is our national and precious blood bank. Up until today, MDA staff would have to move the blood units to the bomb shelter. This is a complex and dangerous task. Today we fulfil the dream of opening a modern, protected National Blood Services Center that will manage Israel’s citizens’ blood supplies in a secure, uninterrupted manner. MDA's strength and preparedness are a strategic requirement of the State. We will continue to work in full cooperation with MDA for the benefit of the health of Israel's citizens.”
Defense Minister Benny Gantz: “Tonight we are dedicating a national treasure that is vital for all our lives. Thank you to the people of MDA, to all of the donors and those involved in building the new blood center. We must be prepared for any threat at any time. An underground blood bank sounds like science fiction, but it’s real and the first of its kind in the world. The new building will save the lives of our loved ones and will be a model and example to the world. In Israel, donating blood is a moral and communal obligation to which we adhere from a young age.”
President of the State of Israel, Isaac Herzog: “There is no replacement for human blood. In a world where we have learnt how to 3D print a heart, and how to use organs from live donations in order to save lives, we have yet to find a suitable replacement for the blood itself, even though the State of Israel is leading the way in this field too. The human blood is undoubtedly extremely complex. Which is why it makes finding a replacement so difficult. Perhaps it is also as written, in another context – “For the blood is the soul,” meaning that it is the fluid of life and the purest form of humanity. The President continued: “Here, in this important, precious blood bank, do we feel the essence of human codependence. It teaches us that we are brothers and sisters, even if we argue and disagree – but blood donations must be above any disagreement.” In his closing remarks, the President thanked all those involved: “For me, Magen David Adom is a symbol both for an incredible ideal as well as a daily establishment that provides life-saving care. I would like to thank first and foremost to the heads of the organization – to MDA Director General Eli Bin, as well as the volunteers, the paramedics, the medical teams, the employees, the drivers, the dispatchers, to those in the field, those working on networks, in laboratories, the management, and more. I want to thank all of you, for your vital and extraordinary work.”
MDA Director General Eli Bin: “Many years have passed since the initial idea of building a blood services center, during which time the challenges facing the State of Israel and Magen David Adom have changed. However, today more than ever, we know how vital this center is, that stand at the pinnacle of modernization and technology in the field of blood services. While we always hope for peace, we are also prepared for war, and the new Marcus National Blood Services Center is an important, central addition to facing the challenges faced by Magen David Adom and the State of Israel. It is stated in our scriptures that anyone who saves a life, it is as though they have saved an entire world. I am proud to be surrounded by so many good people who save worlds on a daily basis. People who work tirelessly in order to improve and advance emergency medicine and blood services in Israel. One of the central causes of this success is the donation of Mr. and Mrs. Bernie and Billi Marcus, Dr. Miriam Adelson and her late husband Sheldon, and hundreds of other donors from Israel and across the world, and for this I express my thanks and great appreciation.”
Diplomacy.co.il congratulates the Magen David Adom for this wonderful dedication , that will help lives
Photos credit Silvia G. Golan
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