INFORMS President Ed Kaplan helps shape the future of blood donation in Israel

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INFORMS President Ed Kaplan helps shape the future of blood donation in Israel

CATONSVILLE, MD, December 19, 2016 – Research conducted by the President of INFORMS, Yale Professor Ed Kaplan, regarding the probability of infectious blood entering Israel’s blood supply, played a pivotal role in recent revisions to Israeli policy regarding blood donation. Kaplan’s research, based on a number of factors including the efficacy of current blood tests, population infection rate, and lab error, contributed to the lifting of a decades-long ban on populations previously deemed high risk in Israel.

In 2014, following increasing political and societal pressure, the Israeli Health Ministry appointed a committee to review the previous policy that excluded certain members of the population from donating (including Ethiopian Israelis and homosexuals) to minimize the potential for infections agents such as HIV and HBV to enter the blood supply. The committee, led by Professor Manfred Green, Director of the Global Health Leadership and Administration Program at the University of Haifa’s School of Public Health, and comprised of professionals, public representatives, ethicists, and Prof. Kaplan, was tasked with identifying whether the current policy was still based upon factual information.

Israel’s previous policy was based mainly upon the prevalence of infection among would be donors. Kaplan, who had conducted similar research in the past, reviewed additional factors impacting the safety of donated blood, including the potential for lab error, the current efficacy of tests used to detect infectious agents in blood samples, as well as the presence of HIV and HBV in the would-be donor populations of Israel. Kaplan’s research indicated that the risk of infection from these previously excluded populations was, in fact, very low.  For example, the estimated potential number of HIV-infectious donations per year from Ethiopian-Israelis was only 0.13, or 1.3 infectious donations every ten years. Similarly, Kaplan estimated that the annual number of potentially infectious donations from men who have sex with men was 0.18, or 1.8 infections every ten years.

Based in part on Kaplan’s research, whose results were consistent with separate calculations made by Ministry of Health epidemiologists, the committee made recommendations to the Israeli Health Ministry that will be put into effect in the New Year. Israel’s new policy will not only significantly increase its potential donor base, but will bring it in line with much of Europe, Canada and the U.S., who have all adopted similar policies.

For more information, visit The Times of Israel and The Jerusalem Post.

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With more than 12,000 members from across the globe, INFORMS is the leading international association for professionals in operations research and analytics. More information about INFORMS is available at www.informs.org or @informs.