Israel’s Magen David Adom emergency first responder organization and Abbott Israel have joined forces with soccer player Cristiano Ronaldo for a new campaign encouraging Israelis to donate blood.

Star Real Madrid player Cristiano Ronaldo, a regular blood donor, is featured in the “BeThe1” campaign, part of a nationwide blood drive that will take place at dozens of blood donation sites across Israel.

Blood donations are vital in order to save lives, but many people are unaware of this until they or their loved ones are in critical need. Few people know that 234 million operations that require blood transfusions take place worldwide annually. In fact, 1 in every 7 people who are hospitalized requires a life-saving blood transfusion.

Whilst 108 million blood units are collected annually across the world, only a small percentage of the billions people who are eligible to donate actually do so. For those requiring a blood transfusion, the need is even greater as the blood has a very short shelf life. It is only by means of a steady, regular stream of volunteer donors that the required supply can be guaranteed.

For this reason, Real Madrid soccer star, Cristiano Ronaldo, has joined Magen David Adom's campaign. Israel's national rescue service along with Abbott Israel are cooperating in order to promote and raise awareness of the subject, as well as encouraging younger members to join the pool of regular donors.

"It is within our powers to bring about change by donating blood. Each donation can help save 3 people, either in an emergency or in long-term care," says Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal's soccer team captain and Real Madrid player. "This is why I'm excited about joining forces with Abbott Israel and MDA's campaign, which will help raise awareness of the importance of donating blood, and will encourage people across the globe to become life-long blood donors and life-savers."

Ronaldo, one of the world's great soccer players, is the first international ambassador of the BeThe1 initiative, active across the world in order to inspire as many people as possible to become regular blood donors and to help save lives.

As a regular donor since the age of 24, Ronaldo understands the importance of donating blood. He first donated when a teammate's son became ill and need a donation. Since then he has donated regularly, and avoids any activities that may prevent him from donating, even temporarily.

As part of the campaign, MDA's Blood Services will incorporate Ronaldo's image in various forms of advertising in order to generate the public's interest, will hold blood drives at 43 different locations across Israel as well as at the central Blood Bank in Tel Hashomer, dozens of blood donation staff will give lectures in several languages to the general public about the importance of donating, and the campaign will also be publicized across social media.

The campaign's initiator is the Abbott corporation, a world leader in infectious disease detection, whose diagnostic devices are used to scan over 50% of the world's blood supplies. As a result of the meticulous selection and checks of donors, millions of people receive safe blood transfusions every year. Using Abbott's Global Surveillance Program, the company acts to keep blood supplies safe, whilst checking for new viruses or diseases, as well as detection of new strains of AIDS or Hepatitis B and C, in order to ensure these viruses are discovered through thorough checks of the blood.

As Israel's largest supplier of blood to civilians and the IDF, MDA sees great importance in this joint effort to raise awareness of the importance of blood donations, and thanks both Abbott as well as Ronaldo for their efforts to help increase the number of donors in Israel and across the world.

"The involvement of Cristiano Ronaldo, one of the world's greatest soccer players in raising awareness of the importance of blood donations shows his human nature, his deep caring and his regard for his fellow man,” said MDA General Manager Eli Bin.