By chance, I walked past the blood bank in Gaza City today. I was getting the lay of the land in my new neighborhood near the beach, scoping out where the shops and other necessities are located.
I donate blood three times each year in the US and so I was curious to see the blood bank in Gaza, and what better way than to walk in off the street and volunteer to donate?
There were no donors in the room. The three nurses or lab technicians at the front desk were a little amused with my request. One spoke very good English and asked how old I am. That’s the second time I’ve been asked my age when trying to donate blood in Gaza. (I MUST LOOK REALLY OLD!) She checked my hemoglobin count (I think) and said it was good and that I could make a donation.
We went into the next room filled with spiffy-looking chairs but antiquated cabinets and counters. I sat and the nurse kindly explained each step of the process. The whole procedure was completed in 10-15 minutes.
The Central Blood Bank Society is a nonprofit established in 1971 in Gaza Strip because of the dangerous lack of blood supplies in the hospitals after the 1967 war. At that time Palestinians were selling their blood, and hospital staff were pulling people off the street with offers to pay them for their blood. Some benefactors saw the serious conditions and decided to organize this nonprofit blood bank.
The blood bank does not pay anyone for donations, and it gives the blood supplies to the hospitals at no cost. The staff collects and tests about 7000-8000 blood units every year, with an additional two branches located in Rafah and Khan Yunis.
I sat and drank tea with the Director of the Blood Bank, and asked him about the needs of his facility. It looked clean, professionally run and well-supplied. The needle, tubing and bag used for my donation were new and opened from a sealed bag.
The blood bank depends on foreign NGOs and relief agencies to keep it stocked, but the director informed me that the basic cost of operations is a big challenge. They don’t charge a shekel for testing the blood, and the basics for running three offices requires some shekels to purchase the fuel for the generators when the electricity goes out, paying the phone bill, even serving tea or juice to the donors.
My friends in Gaza: The Central Blood Bank Society needs your blood. I encourage you to check them out. They are located at Al-Remal – Al Nasera Street & Charl Degol Street Tel. 2845101
My American friends, and others abroad, who are thinking about making a year-end donation for a good cause, I recommend the Central Blood Bank Society in Gaza. Send me a message LoraLucero@aol.com and I will connect you with the Director of the Blood Bank. Or call from overseas 0097-082-845101.