Amid Conflict, Israel’s Advanced Underground Blood Bank Mobilizes Rapidly as Military Engages in Gaza

by Joshua Brown
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Israel underground blood bank

In the aftermath of the assault by Hamas militants on southern Israel on October 7, Israel’s newly constructed underground blood bank sprang into operation. The Marcus National Blood Services Center in Ramla, positioned strategically near Tel Aviv, was on the cusp of its official launch when the escalation necessitated an immediate operational start.

Despite original plans for a staged opening, the surge in casualties, exceeding 1,400 Israeli lives lost since the onset of Hamas hostilities — predominantly during the initial salvo — precipitated an expedited response.

“The urgency of the situation demanded that we expedite our preparedness in alignment with military exigencies. This facility was envisioned for such critical times,” explained Dr. Eilat Shinar, head of the national blood services division of Magen David Adom, Israel’s premier emergency medical, disaster, ambulance, and blood donation service.

The center, ensconced as deep as 15 meters underground, embodies a $135 million investment in a 6-story edifice equipped with cutting-edge technology to withstand rocket attacks, chemical warfare, and seismic events, thereby preserving the continuity of blood processing during crises.

In the ensuing days post the Hamas offensive, Dr. Shinar reported that the center dispensed several tens of thousands of blood units.

“Our efforts were relentless in meeting the emergent demands,” she stated. “With numerous casualties, our role in their treatment was pivotal.”

The precedent facility, established in the 1980s, had proven inadequate in wartime conditions and was vulnerable during past conflicts, though it sustained no damage. The 2014 conflict with Hamas, marked by rocket fire reaching even Tel Aviv, catalyzed the initiative for a more secure blood bank.

The newly inaugurated center boasts a doubled storage capacity — up to half a million units annually compared to the former 270,000 — and has already processed a record volume of blood for Israel’s reserves.

“The proximity of rocket impacts to the center underscored the imperative for enhanced protection,” stated Moshe Noyovich, the project’s lead engineer and the Israel-based liaison for the American Friends of Magen David Adom, which was instrumental in funding the project.

In prior conflicts, rocket threats necessitated the repeated relocation of equipment to bunkers. The new center eliminates such disruptions, enabling uninterrupted operations, according to Noyovich.

Spanning 51,000 square meters, the fortified structure handles all of Israel’s blood donations and includes a transportation hub, a molecular laboratory, and an advanced air-filtration system that allows staff to work even amidst chemical or biological attacks. It also features a heavily protected 300-square-meter safe room capable of withstanding extreme missile attacks.

As Israeli forces progress into the Gaza Strip, determined to subdue Hamas, the blood center readies itself for an anticipated increase in casualties needing blood transfusions.

The onset of the conflict galvanized public support, with thousands queuing for hours to donate blood. Notably, in early October, contributions peaked at 5,000 units in a single day — quintupling the usual intake. Donors with Type O blood are particularly sought after, given its universal compatibility, crucial for rapid emergency response.

Once collected, the blood is promptly distributed to medical facilities and the military, ensuring immediate aid for wounded combatants.

“Blood reserves are vital to wartime medical interventions, and our aim is to maintain a ready supply for immediate accessibility,” noted Guillemette Thomas, medical coordinator for Doctors Without Borders.

Reported by Mednick from Jerusalem.

For comprehensive AP coverage of the Israel-Hamas conflict, visit bigbignews.net/israel-hamas-war

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Israel underground blood bank

What prompted the early operational start of Israel’s new underground blood bank?

The sudden escalation of hostilities with Hamas militants on October 7, which led to a significant number of casualties, necessitated the immediate activation of the Marcus National Blood Services Center in Ramla, ahead of its scheduled opening.

How is the Marcus National Blood Services Center in Ramla designed to withstand conflict situations?

The center is fortified 15 meters underground and is equipped with state-of-the-art technology, making it resistant to rockets, missiles, chemical attacks, and earthquakes, which ensures that blood processing can continue uninterrupted during crises.

What has been the impact of the new blood bank since the recent conflict began?

Following the attacks, the center has supplied several tens of thousands of units of blood to meet the emergent demand due to the influx of casualties, far exceeding the processing volumes of the previous facility.

How does the new blood bank’s capacity compare to the old one?

The new blood bank has the ability to store almost twice as much blood as its predecessor, with a capacity for half a million units a year compared to the former capacity of 270,000 units.

What are the special features of the new blood bank facility?

The new 51,000 square-meter facility processes all donated blood in Israel and includes a transportation center, a molecular laboratory, an advanced air-filtration system, and a safe room designed to withstand severe missile threats.

What role do blood donors play during the conflict?

Blood donors, especially those with Type O blood, are crucial as their blood can be universally administered, enabling rapid emergency treatment. The public response has been strong, with record numbers of people turning out to donate in the wake of the conflict.

How is the donated blood utilized during the conflict?

Donated blood is quickly transferred to hospitals and directly to the Israeli military to provide immediate treatment to wounded soldiers on the battlefield.

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