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September 18, 2014 / 23 Elul, 5774
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Ethiopian MK Stunt May Result in Compromising Israel’s Blood Supply

An MDA medical team was kicked out of the Knesset for refusing an Ethiopian MK Blood.
Armed with a camera, MK Pnina Tamano-Shata, who was born in Ethiopia, demanded to be permitted to donate blood. She was told she couldn't, because Ethiopian born Israelis are on the list of people who may not donate (the list also includes homosexuals and Englishmen). Now Israel may expose its blood supply to danger, to appease the political circus she created.

Armed with a camera, MK Pnina Tamano-Shata, who was born in Ethiopia, demanded to be permitted to donate blood. She was told she couldn't, because Ethiopian born Israelis are on the list of people who may not donate (the list also includes homosexuals and Englishmen). Now Israel may expose its blood supply to danger, to appease the political circus she created.
Photo Credit: Flash90

The Magen David Adom (MDA) team that was collecting blood donations at the Knesset Wednesday was chased out of the building, after they refused to accept blood from MK Pnina Tamano-Shata of Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party.

The team was acting on standard instructions from the Ministry of Health – which is headed by Yesh Atid Minister Yael German.

Much like health departments in the U.S., the Israeli health ministry’s instructions prohibit accepting blood from homosexual men, people who spent considerable time in the U.K., Ireland and Portugal in previous decades, and people who arrived in Israel from central Africa, South East Asia and the Caribbeans.

For her part, MK Tamano-Shata said she was not angry at the team that refused to take her blood, but at their instructions, which come from a higher place. She said she was happy to contribute as an IDF soldier and an elected official, why should she not be allowed to do the same when it comes to blood donations?

The answer is simple: because Africa has a high rate of infection with certain diseases, predominately HIV, and the health ministry is deposited with the responsibility to prevent diseased blood from spreading in the population. Public health systems typically draw very wide lines in attempting to prevent the spread of infectious diseases, and the list of possible culprits is an example of a well thought out public health policy.

But in Israel, politics and policy easily mix. Tamano-Shata’s boss, Finance Minister Yair Lapid, attacked MDA for the terrible hurt they had caused. And Yesh Atid Health Minister Yael Garman quickly threw her office staff under the bus (let’s hope they won’t need a blood infusion), declaring it was “absurd” that, 25 years after their arrival in Israel, Ethiopian olim still may not give blood.

That is not exactly true. Of the estimated 120,000 Israeli Ethiopians, some 40,000 are eligible to donate blood, because they were born in Israel. Not to acknowledge this fact is a vicious and completely unfair attack on the Jewish State.

But forget Israel’s good name for now — the real danger is to Israel’s blood supply.

Another Yesh Atid MK quickly opened the floodgate to contamination, saying “there are sufficient technological tools with which it can be determined who is an acceptable donor and who isn’t. It is inconceivable that an entire population would be disqualified in a sweeping manner.”

That already borders on the criminal, in my humble opinion, because the purpose of public health policy is to avoid situations in which judgment regarding infectious diseases is left up to the individual healthcare worker in the field. Public health directives are by definition sweeping and stiff, because it only takes one error in judgment on the part of one worker to let a deadly virus into the blood supply.

Go back to the 1980s account of how fast the blood reserves in France and other Western countries went bad because people were not quick enough to plug the loopholes. Using politics to force the hand of professional healthcare administrators is suicide. I prefer 50 thousand Ethiopians who are insulted to the bottom of their souls over one casualty. And that’s how I expect my healthcare system to operate.

That great healthcare maven, President Shimon Peres, condemned the incident severely, declaring passionately that “it is forbidden to differentiate between bloods in the State of Israel, all Israeli citizens are equal.”

About the Author: Yori Yanover has been a working journalist since age 17, before he enlisted and worked for Ba'Machane Nachal. Since then he has worked for Israel Shelanu, the US supplement of Yedioth, JCN18.com, USAJewish.com, Lubavitch News Service, Arutz 7 (as DJ on the high seas), and the Grand Street News. He has published Dancing and Crying, a colorful and intimate portrait of the last two years in the life of the late Lubavitch Rebbe, (in Hebrew), and two fun books in English: The Cabalist's Daughter: A Novel of Practical Messianic Redemption, and How Would God REALLY Vote.


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13 Responses to “Ethiopian MK Stunt May Result in Compromising Israel’s Blood Supply”

  1. morons!! absolute morons as dumb as Americans who protested not allowing Haitians from donating blood.

  2. MY sister was given a pint of blood in 1983 in Ashkelon well,she was poisoned because the blood contained HEPATITES.AND she died with a slow horrible death.AND I wont forgive or forget this murder.SO??????

  3. 40 years ago, a blood donor card that I had filled out at a trade convention, was returned to me, by an American Red Cross worker, in front of all my co-workers, with the loud words: “I’m sorry, but your blood is no good”. I had filled out, on the medical history line, that I had life-long asthma. He told me that they don’t accept blood from asthmatics. I was stunned, and humiliated, in front of my friends. Today, with the question of transmission of asthma by blood transfusion still unanswered, I realize how devastated I would have felt if I knew that I had given a stranger the illness that has been a life-long health problem for me. A little humiliation never killed anyone. A little “no good blood” can kill someone. It’s an easy choice.

  4. Yisroel Feld says:

    Honestly,it would make more sense to screen all blood ,,regardless of who donated it,,and not rely on the present faulted system of prevention.

  5. Cherie Lewis says:

    Focus on health, not politics. Many people are not allowed to donate blood. For example, the UCLA Medical Center will not take blood donations from people who previously had lymphoma, a type of cancer. The goal of blood donation is improvement of the health of the blood recipient, not risk/harm to the health of the blood recipient.

  6. They refused to take my blood for years because I had multiple allergies. And I was not insulted. Take all this political correctness and stick it you no where.

  7. Ben II says:

    enough w the political correctness, this is about people’s lives and everyone knows what the stats unfortunately are in Africa.

  8. Michael Dar says:

    MK Pnina Tamano Shata's "stunt" is a share provocation, a low, vicious trick to give herself some political importance and credit by pretending to defend the interest of her community. Shame on her. She should be reprimended and penalised.

  9. Basha Kline says:

    I recently read that Isaac Asimov, the brilliant Sci-Fi author died from aids and this was contracted by contaminated blood after surgery – This stupid woman has been given safety and cuvut in reaching the heights of becoming a member of the Knesset and still she wants more – Yes, she was given these opportunities in Israel but what would she have become in Ethiopia? hardly an MK or a member of anything other than a statistic.

  10. The fact that not one Israeli politician had the balls to stand up and call a spade a spade is amazing.

  11. DAMENU MERGIA says:

    The prevalence of HIV in Israel is not zero percent. A blood of any citizen must be examined using the adavanced technology we have before transfusing the blood he/she donates.. Descriminating based on country of origin is not acceptable. A one day travel to any country and or just unprotected sexual contact with an HIV pisitive person puts that donor at risk. So every person is at risk and may be considered as having HIV unless his/her blood get tested.

    What matters is the medical laboratory result not the country of origion.

  12. Maynard Miller says:

    It sounds to me like you have a good system to protect the Israeli people's health. Keep it up. Don't knuckle down to this attempt to force you to modify your medical system for the purpose of "Political Correctness". Here in the US this same Political Correctness has brought us to our knees. We are afraid to say anything for fear of offending "someone".

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