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MDA refuses blood donation from MK of Ethiopian heritage

A team from Magen David Adom – Israel's national emergency medical, disaster, ambulance and blood bank service (MDA) – has refused to take a blood donation from Knesset Member Pnina Tamano-Shata because she was born in Ethiopia. An MDA team member explained to the MK that Israel's Health Ministry guidelines specify that blood should not be taken from people who were born in countries with a high incidence of HIV, or who spent more than one year in those countries.

Israel's Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper reported the incident today saying that the MDA team had offered to keep the MK's blood sample in a separate unit and to freeze it so it did not mix with the rest of the blood. The incident has angered the MK who has been reported as saying: "I'm good enough to serve the country in the Knesset, but for some reason to donate blood I'm not good enough… this is insulting."

Meanwhile, a member of the Likud Beiteinu Party, MK Gila Gamliel, commented on the incident saying "we had just returned from the memorial service of the former South African leader Nelson Mandela where South Africans have proudly celebrated Mandela's achievement to eliminate racial discrimination, to wake up here to the reality of racism."

In his own response to the incident, the Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein (Likud Beiteinu) has ordered an end to donation activities saying, "I thought that era was behind us but it has turned out I was mistaken."

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has contacted the MK and apologised to her promising that he will work to repeal the Health Ministry's guidelines for blood donation.

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