Magen David Adom UK launched its Blood Drive for British olim in Israel with two landmark events last week. The events came just a fortnight after it was announced that, for the first time in a generation, those that lived in the UK during 1980-1996 were now eligible to give blood in Israel. The ban had been in place since 1999 due to the ‘Mad Cow Disease’ outbreak of the mid-90s.

On Thursday, in conjunction with the British Embassy in Israel, a reception was held at the Peres Center for Peace & Innovation in Jaffa. Guests were given the opportunity to give blood and heard from Simon O’Donnell, Head of Political at the British Embassy, Sharon Napchan-Lavon, External Relations Coordinator of the Peres Center, Eilat Shinar (Director of Israel’s National Blood Services) and Daniel Burger, CEO of MDA UK.

Speaking at the event, O’Donnell said, The embassy is very happy to be here today and celebrate this important decision. I know it has been long awaited and I have no doubt the British community in Israel would be taking full advantage of this meaningful opportunity. I am more than honoured to be one of the first brits to donate blood and help save lives”.

This was echoed by the Director General of the Peres Center for Peace and Innovation, Efrat Duvdevani, who noted, “We are proud to take part in the event of an important organization like MDA. The Peres Center for Peace and Innovation maintains extensive ties with the British Embassy in Israel and we are happy to be the home where it is possible for British citizens living in Israel to donate blood after years when this was not possible.” Shinar reiterated the importance of blood to Israel in her keynote address. “Over the past years, British people have asked me, ‘until when’ will they be prevented from giving blood. Now we can get everybody donating blood and joining our MDA volunteer donor base. With each unit of blood-saving three lives, who are we to stop people volunteering to save a life.“

Closing the event, Daniel Burger said, “With the announcement that, for the first time in a generation, Brits can give blood in Israel, MDA UK is delighted to host this blood-drive launch event at The Peres Center. For all those that can, giving blood is not only a duty but also an honour. When you give blood, you give hope and help to whoever is in need without prejudice or question. The change in legislation marks a milestone both for the British-Israeli community and for the wider population in removing a longstanding barrier and allowing us to save more lives.”

The launch reception was followed on Friday with a mass blood drive at the Ayalon Mall, Ramat Gan. Numerous expats turned up to give blood for the first time in Israel.