New Equipment is Life Line for Gaza Blood Bank

21.01.11 – 12:08

ANERA – PNN – The Central Blood Bank Society (CBBS) is literally a life-saving institution in Gaza. Its motto – “From Heart to Heart” – aptly sums up its mission to encourage people to donate blood to help others survive.


ANERA’s Mostafa Al Ghosain inspect the new chemical analyzer









“The Bank, with branches in Rafah and Khan Younis, plays a key role in the community with limited resources but it suffered from old and out-dated lab equipment and refrigerators, which badly affected their ability to serve the community,” said Dr. Mostafa El-Ghosiene, ANERA’s Gaza manager of the in-kind donation program.

During the bombardments in 2009, the Bank provided blood when it wasn’t available in local hospitals and clinics. CBBS Director Dr. Nahed Abu Asi remembers the difficult time. “People were not able to leave their residential areas. We ordered five shipments from the National Blood Bank of Jordan but we had a major problem with blood storage.” The blood Bank received 100 units of blood and 1,000 units of plasma and had to store the shipment in huge supermarket ice cream refrigerators. “It was the only option and it helped us save lives,” he explained.

Thanks to a generous $100,000 donation from the National American Arab Medical Association (NAAMA), The  American Near East Refugee Aid- ANERA-   was able to deliver much-needed equipment to the Bank, including refrigerators, refrigerated centrifuges, an electric sealer, chemistry analyzer, Eliza reader, CBC machine, water bath and micro-plate washer. With the donation, the Bank has increased its blood storage capacity and laboratory services.

“It makes a tremendous improvement to what we can provide in terms of developing the capacity of the laboratory and the Bank itself,” said Dr. Nahed. The Khan Younis and Rafah branches each received a refrigerator, which doubled their blood storage capacity from 150 to 300 units.

Staff has also upgraded the cleanliness of operations with the electric sealer, replacing manual closure of blood bags. “The staff used to tie the tube of the blood bag, which increased the risk of contamination,” said Dr Abu Asi.


The new centrifuge, which separates blood from plasma









The Bank conducts numerous tests to make sure donated blood is free of critical viruses like HIV, HCV and HBSAG. For more than a decade, the staff did the testing manually, which took an hour to complete. Thanks to the Eliza reader, they can conduct tests on 60 blood units in just 15 minutes.

Since 2004, the Bank stopped the public lab testing because of the deteriorated equipment. With the new donations, they can now offer testing and analysis services at very low prices. A glucose test at the blood Bank, for example, costs 5 NIS ($1.40), compared to 15 NIS ($4.25) elsewhere. Dr. Abu Asi explains, “The low cost of tests benefit people in need and the Bank still can generate enough income to cover operating and maintenance costs.”

Director Abu Asi says the centrifuge, which separates blood, is one of the Bank’s most beneficial additions, “During an emergency here in Gaza, we treat bleeding patients who are in need of certain content of blood or plasma. If we give the patients a whole unit of blood, it could make the condition worse.”

Looking to the future with renewed confidence, Dr Abu Asi says the ANERA contribution has a long-term impact on the community. He says Central Blood Bank Society plans to open a training facility for local medical students and conduct health information campaigns for the local community to increase awareness about the benefits of the blood Bank’s services.

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PNN – Palestine News Network – New Equipment is Life Line for Gaza Blood Bank.

Life and death in the buffer zone

16 January 2011 | International Solidarity Movement, Vera Macht

Death comes quickly at a place like this. On sunny winter days, when the smell of the night’s rain is still in the air, as if it would have brought some hope for the raped, barren land of Gaza, overrun hundreds of times by Israeli tanks and bulldozers. The land between the foothills of the village of Bait Hanoun and the Israeli border, guarded by watchtowers, soldiers, snipers, helicopters and drones is a land in which death is a regular guest.

Shaban Karmout Shaban lays in the morgue Shaban lays in the morgueBut despite all that, the 65-year-old Shaban Karmout probably had something like hope when he woke up on that winter morning. His house is in the 300 meter wide strip of land in the so-called buffer zone. He built his house 40 years ago, in 1971, when Gaza was already occupied by Israel, and yet he thought to have a future there for himself and his family. Shaban began to plant fruits, his land was full of palms and trees, lemon, orange, clementine and almond trees were growing there. He had a good life.

But in 2003, just at the time of the almond harvest, the Israeli bulldozers came in the middle of the night. It took them three hours to raze the work of 30 years to the ground. Since the Israeli attack in 2009, he could no longer live there, the buffer zone had become too dangerous, where his home was, which has now been declared a closed combat zone by Israel. He had since lived in a small rented concrete house in the middle of the refugee camp near Bait Hanoun, in Jabalia, cramped in a tiny apartment with his large family.

He went back to his land, every morning, and worked there until the evening. He and his family had to make a living from something, after all. And so this morning, in the morning of the 10th January 2011, he woke up with hope, around 4 o’clock, and left for his fields. Full of hope he was because he and his neighbors had recently received a new well, their old one had been destroyed by an Israeli tank incursion. The Italian NGO GVC had built the well, it was financed by the Italian government.

On that day he was visited by an employee of the organization, to see how his situation had improved. She had an interview with him, and he asked her to come into the house, as it would be not safe outside. As she left, he advised her to rather take a short cut, you never know. He told her that he himself still had to go into the garden once more to tie his donkey. The NGO worker had just reached the village of Bait Hanoun, as three shots fell. One hit Shaban in the neck, two others in the upper part of his body. He was dead on the spot.
“It’s like a nightmare,” the Italian said, stunned. “I will never see him again. From here to the morgue in two hours. ”

In the interview that he gave shortly before his death, he told me about the unbearable situation in which he had been living. “It felt as if someone had ripped out my heart,” he described the night in which he lost all his land under the blades of eight bulldozers. And he told how he and the farmers from the neighbor fields had risked planting yet again, you have to make a living from something after all, and had grown wheat. When it was ready to be harvested, it was burned down by the Israeli army. And he told how he and the farmers from the neighboring fields yet again had the courage to plant, the children have to eat something after all, and tried to grow wheat. When the workers went to the field to sow, they were fired upon by Israeli soldiers.

What he now makes his living from, he was asked. “I collect stones and wood, and I grow some crops in my garden,” he replied. Crops, for which he had recently gotten water, thanks to a donation of a well from the Italian government. Shaban therefore probably looked somewhat optimistically into the future, the well could have restored the income from his garden to him. This was his only income since it had become too dangerous for him to enter his fields. “At any time the Israeli bulldozers can come again to destroy my house, you never know what they do next,” he said. Whether he isn’t afraid to be there, the employee of the NGO asked him. “No, I don’t mind the shooting too much,” he replied. “Even if something happens to me, humans can only die once. And only God knows when I am going to die.”

His nephew, Mohammed Karmout, stood a bit apart from the morgue. “The Israelis know my uncle very well,” he says quietly. “He’s there every day, and the whole area is monitored by cameras and drones. They know he lives there.”
And so it is quite doubtful that only God alone knew that Shaban would die at that day, while he was tying his donkey, by three shots in his upper body.

Shaban Karmout is the third civilian being shot dead in the buffer zone in the last month. At Christmas, the Shepherd Salama Abu Hashish, 20 years old, died by a shot in the back while he was tending his sheep. Since the beginning of last year, about a hundred workers and farmers have been shot by Israeli snipers in the buffer zone, 13 of them died.

Source: International Solidarity Movement

Life and death in the buffer zone at PS.HADNEWS.COM.

Life in Gaza’s no-go zone

Published today (updated) 16/01/2011 17:14 | Maan News Agency
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) – To some residents of the Gaza Strip, the crippling siege which Israel has imposed for over four years means much more than a lack of food, fuel, clothing, work opportunities, and construction material. 

Gazan families who live along the border between the coastal enclave and Israel face serious dangers on a daily basis. The gunshots and artillery shells fired from the Israeli side reach farther than the no-go zone set by Israeli forces inside the Strip.

Muhammad Al-Masri lives only 700 meters from the border in Beit Hanoun in northern Gaza. He says he goes to sleep and wakes up listening to the whizzing of gunshots and the humming of artillery shells.

“From my garden, I can see Israeli military vehicles moving back and forth. The gunfire and the shells that come from those vehicles have several times hit my home and terrified my kids,” he told Ma’an.

Damage from gun shots and shrapnel can be seen on the walls of the house and Al-Masri can’t repair the cracks. Construction materials have been banned by Israel, but even if he could find cement or concrete, an ordinary citizen like Al-Masri would not have the money to buy it.

“There are several holes and gaps in the house, but there is no cement or concrete to repair them. Add to this that I impose my own curfew on myself and my family at night because who knows when a stray bullet could hit one of us?” says Al-Masri.

“I can’t go even one meter away from home. My kids live a state of terror especially after their mother was killed. Where can these kids live if not on their own land?”

Al-Masri’s wife was killed by an Israeli artillery attack on Beit Hanoun.

“I can’t tell who is next,” he said.

Maan News Agency: Life in Gaza’s no-go zone.