Blood donations set a record
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Blood donations set a record

When Ben Chideckel rolled up his sleeve to donate blood a couple of weeks ago, he became the 900th donor recruited through American Friends of Magen David Adom. For Chideckel, a Teaneck resident studying this year in a Jerusalem yeshiva, it was the second time he’d given blood in Israel.

“If you’re a Jew, it makes more sense to give in Israel than anywhere else,” said the 2008 Frisch graduate. “I think there is a bit of a shortage here.”

Indeed, MDA has a constant struggle to provide its share of 97 percent of Israel’s blood needs. That is why AFMDA’s Israel representative, former Teaneck resident Jonathan Feldstein, has been pumping up the organization’s efforts.

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Benjamin Chideckel poses proudly after donating blood in Israel.

From the beginning of May – with an unprecedented number of American blood donations in Israel – AFMDA helped recruit its 700th, 800th, 900th, and 1,000th donors for the year.

“This is double the number of donors that AFMDA had recruited at this time a year ago, and it took until October to reach the 1,000th donor in 2008,”said Feldstein. “Since 2006, every year AFMDA has doubled the previous year’s number of blood donors to Magen David Adom in Israel, and is well on track to do so again in 2009.”

MDA is Israel’s only government-mandated ambulance and emergency medical responder, providing medical, disaster, ambulance, and blood services.

“We’re overwhelmed and overjoyed at the success and literal outpouring of support that this program has received,” Feldstein continued. “At the very beginning, some had to be persuaded to even think about donating blood in Israel. Now, not a week goes by without a person, family, or entire group or organization contacting AFMDA to find out how, where, and when it’s possible to donate blood in Israel.”

The student-run drive at Torat Shraga, the yeshiva Chideckel attends on Yeshiva University’s Jerusalem campus, was the largest one ever organized through AFMDA. Chideckel said about half the 100-student body donated, and students from other American yeshiva and seminary programs brought the day’s total to 169, according to Feldstein. The same week, students at Michlelet Esther Seminary also initiated a successful drive.

On May 14, AFMDA brought its mobile collection station to the U.S. Embassy, where the 1,000th unit of blood was collected from Marine Sergeant Felipe “Trey” Lopez III of Austin, Texas.

“While the embassy and its staff have been longtime partners in coordinating blood drives with AFMDA, this one took on extra meaning because it was dedicated in the memory of Daniel Wultz, a 16-year-old Florida boy who died on May 14, 2006, as a result of a terror attack the month before,” said Feldstein. AFMDA dedicated all its May blood drives in memory of Wultz, the cousin of Congressman Eric Cantor of Virginia.

For information on arranging a blood drive during a trip to Israel, contact Jonathan Feldstein at IsraelOffice@afmda.org, or visit www.afmda.org.

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