Medical advances has brought Israel to make a historic decision! Starting this June the Magen David Adom (MADA) Central Blood Bank is allowing men from the LGBT+ community and people from African countries, especially Ethiopians in Israel, donate blood. This is a precedent in Israel’s medical history. The new machinery is the best in its field and allows MADA to screen blood units for type 1+ HIV, type 1+2 HTLV, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and syphilis!
Up until recently, Ethiopian Jews were not able to donate blood in Israel. The reason for that was that Ethiopia has a higher percentage of HIV infections and medicine was not common in the Jewish refugee camps in Ethiopia. There was an uproar within the Ethiopian Jews in Israel, the community came together in protest and worked to get that decision changed. The policy in Israel was that no one who was in most African countries and some areas in East Asia in the year before them donating blood could donate blood in fear of contracting one of the diseases mentioned above. In addition, men from the LGBT+ community could not have donate blood if they declare they did not have sexual relations in the previous year.
The new test that are now available to the Central Blood Bank allow technicians to screen for HIV residue in the blood sample that accompanies the blood unit, faster than before.
Another improvement is that now there is no age limit on donating blood. People who wish to donate blood over the age of 65 need to bring a doctor’s approval that the donation will not be life threatening.
How does blood services in Israel work?
It is very simple; you can donate blood everywhere you go, literally. MADA operates special blood donation ambulances that you can find everywhere in Israel, in malls, community centers, even army bases, it take up to 30 minutes to donate and it’s easy to do so in the middle of your day.
In order to teach teenagers about the importance of blood donations MADA sends out volunteers to high schools to teach the senior class about blood donations in Israel, after the class the school is arranging an awareness day where MADA sends out local volunteers and they set up in a central classroom for all the senior class to donate blood.
Why is it important to donate blood?
Blood donations are extremely important in the day-to-day work of a hospital. Every patient that goes into the hospital for a procedure (even labor) has his blood tested and at least two units of blood are being prepared in case of emergency. Not only that, but in case of security threats like military operations and wars the hospital that is closest to the area where the tension is highest received more blood units then usual from the central blood bank of Israel.
The most commonly used blood in times of emergency is O-, which is also one of the rarest blood types (along with all negative Rh: A-, B- and AB-) that’s why if you know you are an O- you should donate blood as much as you can (4 times a year is the limit in Israel).
Every person that donates blood In Israel and their closest family members (partners, parents and brothers) receive a yearly “Blood insurance”, meaning, if they need to go through an operation or any procedure that might require them receiving blood units, they will receive all the supply they need. If you do not have such an insurance, you need to find a way to have spare blood units in case you need them.
Want to learn more about blood donations in Israel?
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Until next time…