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Israel Opens World’s First Underground Missile Protected National Blood Bank

Marcus National Blood Services Center

The Marcus National Blood Services Center. Courtesy AFMDA

The world’s first blood bank placed underground with protections against missile attacks can now be found in Israel. The country’s Magen David Adom (MDA) paramedic and ambulance service has opened the new $135 million Marcus National Blood Services Center which will double Israel’s national blood supply.

Marcus National Blood Services Center was funded primarily by American Friends of Magen David Adom (AFMDA), MDA’s U.S.-based fundraising affiliate. The strategic facility was designed and constructed in cooperation with the Prime Minister’s Office, Ministry of Defense, Israel Defense Forces, and the National Cyber Security Authority.

Everyone knows that Israel is at the forefront of cutting edge defense and security technologies. Its Iron Dome missile defense systems is the envy of the world, protecting it from missile and rocket attacks launched by terrorists based in Gaza and Lebanon. But now the country is using that expertise to protect its national medical resources as well.

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The current national blood services facility in Ramat Gan was built in the 1980s and is not large enough to meet the demands of Israel’s growing population or secure enough to meet the country’s needs in times of war. In the past, during rocket attacks, MDA has had to cease processing blood and move the country’s blood reserves into a bomb shelter, interrupting blood production at a time when it might be needed most.

The world’s first subterranean, missile shielded national blood services center is located in Ramla. The Marcus National Blood Services Center is designed to protect Israel’s strategic blood reserves from missile, chemical, and biological attack, as well as earthquakes. Three of the building’s six floors are built underground in successively more secure levels.

The new Marcus Center is shielded with extra-thick concrete walls, blast doors, and airlocks, as well as biological and chemical protection that extends across three subterranean floors. The three above-ground floors house the Human Milk Bank, where mothers’ milk is collected for premature and ill infants, as well as the blood donation center, administrative offices, conference rooms, and dining halls.

The first underground floor houses shielded blood bank laboratories, a transportation center, and secure fleet parking, where all new ambulances will be fully equipped.

The second underground floor houses the Cord Blood Inventory, an R&D molecular lab, and a chemical and biological warfare air-filtration system that enables staff throughout the building to continue working and processing blood in the event of a chemical or biological attack.

At the heart of the third and deepest level lies the Blood Storage Vault, a 300-square-meter safe room shielded against the most severe missile threats, in which Israel’s strategic inventory of 25,000 blood components will be safeguarded in times of war.

To ensure the highest levels of protection and continuity of operations in war scenarios, every critical system has a secondary system, including two ramps leading into the underground floors, four sets of elevators, and four generators.

The center bears the name of Bernie Marcus, the founder of Home Depot, and his wife, Billi, American philanthropists who donated $35 million to the project.

President Isaac Herzog said at the new center’s opening ceremony, “To receive a blood transfusion – the irreplaceable gift of life – from complete strangers is a stark reminder that we are one living, breathing tapestry of humanity, now safeguarded in this impressive new center.”

“Magen David Adom and the people of Israel are indebted to our friends in the diaspora for making this dream a reality,” said Eli Bin, director-general of MDA. “The Marcus National Blood Services Center will ensure constant blood supplies under almost any scenario. This is another world first from Magen David Adom in our daily struggle to preserve life in the face of adversity.”

“With threats from Iran and beyond, this new maximum-security facility will prepare the national emergency medical service to preserve life in the hardest of conditions — for decades to come,” added Reed.

Other significant contributions were made by Miriam and the late Sheldon Adelson; The Leona M. & Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust; and Bloomberg Philanthropies, Michael R. Bloomberg’s charitable organization. Another 600 major gifts were donated by Americans, some 25 of which were each one million dollars or more.



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