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One Family, 600 Units of Blood

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Giving is in their blood. In the 1970s, when Moshe (75) was a young student at Bar-Ilan University, he decided to try to donate blood in MDA for the first time in his life.

Since then, he became a regular donor and has continued to donate every month, and over the years, he has also passed this on to his children and grandchildren.

This week, his granddaughter donated blood for the first time in her life — the family’s 600th blood donation.

This morning, Sunday, marks International Blood Donation Day around the world. At the same time, with extraordinary timing, the Gelerenter family celebrates the 600th blood and blood product donation of family members who have donated blood continuously over the past several decades.

The special “hobby” began in the early 1970s, when the family’s grandfather Moshe Gelerenter was a young student in Bar Ilan.

During one of the breaks, he encountered a MDA Blood Mobile and decided to come in and make a donation — for the first time in his life.

Since then, after realizing the importance and need of the donation — he has not stopped donating and over the years has added his children and grandchildren to the donor list.

Moshe is a father of four and the grandfather of two grandchildren and one of the longest blood donors in MDA.

To date, Moses has donated 305 blood and plasma units since he began donating regularly in 1988.

This week, his young granddaughter (17.5) donated her first blood donation, which marked the 600th donation of family members.

About a year ago, Moshe had a heart attack and had to stop donating. As a result, Moshe decided to continue to help in other ways — and joined the MDA blood donor organization during which he was a volunteer donor in the pharesis unit.

From 1988 until the last years, Moshe donated regularly and hasn’t missed an opportunity to donate.

Because of the sense of mission and giving, Moshe recruited his four children, two grandchildren and other relatives to donate — which together reached a total of 600 family blood donations this week.

Regarding the sense of mission and family effort, Moshe said: “Until the age of 73, I have been donating regularly since the 1980s.’

“Unfortunately, due to a cardiac event and sugar problems, I can no longer donate. Nevertheless, I found another way to help MDA and the Corona crisis I volunteered in the organization and brought more blood donors.’

“I feel I did mine. I was able to educate the next generation and now my grandchildren are donating with their initiative and with great desire.’

“I started donating regularly when I was told about a baby who needed urgent blood donation. The story really excited me and I immediately wanted to donate.’

“This week, my young granddaughter donated her first unit of blood, which marked 600 units of blood from the Gelerenter family.’

“It is an exciting symbol of the continuation of generations and the continuity of giving. To my delight, there is no one in the family who is afraid of needles.’

“I thank G-D for leading me to this endeavor and I am grateful to have been able to help. Most important to me is that my children and the next generation, grandchildren, go my way and donate nonstop.’

“Each has donated dozens of doses of blood and they do not intend to stop. I consider the donation a supreme value and hope my story will serve as an example to others.”

Prof. Eilat Shinar, MDA Deputy Director General- Blood Services: “Moshe is one of the best and most special people we have met.’

“We, in MDA Blood Services, help 1,800 patients around the country who need blood transfusions to save their lives.’

“At the time of the Corona crisis, the importance of plasma donation became particularly significant, with the aim of helping the severely ill and preparing for the next wave.’

“Dr. Karl Landsteiner, who discovered the types of blood and thus his birthday marks the day of blood donation around the world on, would have been happy to know that there are special people like the Gelerenter family.”

London Ambulance Service Thanks Children for “Sharing” Their Mums and Dads

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The children of medics and call handlers at London Ambulance Service have been sent heartfelt letters from their parents’ bosses.

The letters have been sent to more than 1000 children thanking them for “sharing” their mum or dad with the ambulance service so they can care for patients during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sarah Ablewhite’s son, Jack

Paramedic Sarah Ablewhite made the difficult decision to live apart from her 14-year-old son in March.

She said: “My son Jack takes a lot of medication, also his dad has some respiratory issues, so I wanted to protect them. But it has been the hardest thing.’

“We Facetime a lot but it gets very emotional. We both go through all the emotions — he has been scared about me working but also frustrated and angry he can’t see me.’

“Getting the letter just made him so proud and lifted his spirits.”

Ambulance crew Mark Reeve has been living in a hotel since the outbreak of the pandemic to protect his asthmatic six-year-old son.

Mark Reeve’s son, Christopher

Mark said: “It has been very hard to be away from him, particularly missing his sixth birthday, but I felt it was more than just my job to be on the frontline; it was something I had to do.’

“London Ambulance Service is also my family. I don’t know when I will be reunited with Christopher but it meant so much for him to get a letter.’

“He’s no longer worried, he thinks of me as a superhero, saving lives.” 

At the peak of the pandemic, London Ambulance Service was getting as many as 11,000 calls a day.

Charlene Letts, emergency ambulance crew and a mum-of-three, suggested the Service send a message out to families at a time when staff were working long and gruelling shifts.

Charlene Letts’ children, Kiera-Louize (11), Harrison (7), and Sophia (2)

Managers thought it was a great idea and immediately starting sending out the letters — which are personalised for every child.

Charlene said: “The letters are reassuring and made our children feel so special, it said they were heroes and thanked them personally for everything they are doing to help mummy and daddy.’

“This made them feel a part of the Service and that they were helping.’

“It has given me great pleasure that something positive can come out of what has been and continues to be challenging times.”

Shurelle with his son

Emergency medical technician Shurelle Elvique said: “Listening to my eldest son read out the letter gave me a sense of pride, I had tears in my eyes.’

“My youngest said it was ok, he did not mind sharing me so I could help look after sick people.’

“The letter made me feel appreciated in such a tough time, like I was really making a difference.”

Lorraine Quinlan, who works in one of the Service’s 999 control rooms, said: “My son has been so scared and has cried every time I’ve left home to go on shift.’

“Getting this letter has been a massive boost to him — and my daughter.”

Letters have also been sent to grandchildren, cousins, nieces and nephews — any child who has struggled while a loved one has been working. 

Chief Operating Officer of London Ambulance Service Khadir Meer said: “The sacrifice that our people and their children have made during the COVID-19 pandemic has been nothing short of extraordinary.’

“I am incredibly indebted to our team for everything they have done and continue to do to care for Londoners.’

“With my own son having received a letter from the Chief Executive, I know only too well the power of this kind of letter written personally to your child in helping them understand the role their parents have played in tackling this crisis.”