Their biggest gift is blood


Gap year students in Israel gave a crucial Mitzvah Day donation - their blood.

The 37 teenagers who donated blood at Magen David Adom's Jerusalem headquarters last Friday were the first from Britain since the "mad cow disease" outbreak in the 1990s. Israel is now accepting blood from Britons born in 1997.

"I feel like we are making history," said Dalia Herszaft from Edgware, who is on a Bnei Akiva scheme. "Having the opportunity to do it is amazing."

The need for donations had been made more personal by the death of an American gap-year student, Ezra Schwartz, in a terror attack on the West Bank the previous day.

"He went to the yeshivah my cousin went to last year and a lot of the girls in my sem went to his school, or had gone to camp with him," she explained. "There were hundreds of girls in tears."

Fellow donor Adam Ellis said that "to know that it is people my age getting hurt and that [my blood] might have a positive impact is a great feeling".

British Ambassador David Quarrey was on hand to support the donors, telling them: "I'm a big fan of Mitzvah Day and I think it is a great example of volunteering spirit. I am also a big fan of MDA and am always very proud when I see one of the vans come past with a UK friends' dedication.

"They do amazing work across Israel and, unfortunately, we saw yesterday why it is so necessary that you are giving blood."

The young Britons were also thanked by MDA head of blood services, Professor Eilat Shinar, who said: "Blood donation is important because we cannot make blood. We rely on the kindness of others to give.

"This group is the first British group since 1997 that can give blood in Israel and we are very happy to have them here. It is saving not one life but
three - each donation has three components that can go to three different patients.

"I hope it becomes part of the gap year experience."

MDA UK chief executive, Daniel Burger, stressed the importance of the session.

"For the first time in a very long time, they can make a real difference in helping MDA to save lives in Israel.

"This comes at a time when MDA and our blood services have been pushed to the limit because of increased attacks."

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