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Israelis overwhelm blood donation centers as war begins

by Mackenzie Landi

In wake of widespread attacks by Gazan terrorists, killing hundreds and wounding thousands of Israelis, blood services personnel struggle to keep up.

Natalie Selvin’s apartment in Herzliya is the only one in her building with a “safe room” fortified against missile attack.

So when she heard her neighbors across the hall running into the communal staircase as warning sirens wailed outside during Saturday’s massive surprise attack by Hamas terrorists in Gaza, she invited them in to shelter with her.

Selvin, ISRAEL21c’s social media coordinator, recalls that later in the day she saw an urgent appeal from a local blood donation center. Israel’s hospitals, especially in the south and the Tel Aviv area, were treating hundreds of casualties and desperately needed blood for transfusions.

Israelis overwhelm blood donation centers as war begins
Illustration of blood taken from donors by Magen David Adom. Photo by Rebecca Zeffert/Flash90

She doesn’t have a car and was prepared to make the half-hour walk to the donation center, even though that made her understandably nervous with the threat of incoming missiles.

And then she thought of the neighbors.

“I told them about the call for blood donations, and they said, ‘Yes, we’d love to go and we’ll drive.’

“We got there at 7:10pm, 20 minutes before the drive was scheduled to begin, and the line was already super long,” she says.

Israelis overwhelm blood donation centers as war begins
A line of people in Herzliya waiting to donate blood for the wounded on October 7, 2023. Photo by Natalie Selvin

After a few minutes, an employee of the center told those waiting that the center could accept only donors of type O blood, which can be transfused universally, because there wasn’t enough time or personnel to draw blood from everyone.

“He said to check back on Sunday to see when they’d be able to start accepting other types of blood,” Selvin says.

Unfortunately, many blood donations will be needed during this terrible attack that has taken the lives of some 600 Israeli men, women and children thus far.

Sunday morning, Israel’s Health Ministry reported more than 1,850 Israelis wounded — 19 in critical condition, 326 in serious condition, 359 in moderate condition and 821 in light condition, as well as 20 under treatment for psychological trauma. Numbers are rising.

Israel’s national emergency-response and blood services organization, Magen David Adom, reported collecting thousands of blood units on Saturday for distribution to hospitals all over the country, and at 7:40pm announced that it could not handle additional donations.

Today, MDA blood services announced major blood drives in Jerusalem, Haifa, Tel Aviv, Netanya and Tel Hashomer outside Tel Aviv “for all blood types, especially type O.”

“MDA thanks the many volunteers who came and donated blood to save the lives of the wounded and ask the public to continue updating the list of blood donation centers on the MDA website,” a spokesman said.

Originally posted at israel21c.org

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