Donors sought for Maui blood drive

‘The need is greater than the supply’

Collections specialist Christal Morris prepares Kahului Elementary School teacher Wendy Shishido to donate blood Monday afternoon during the Blood Bank of Hawaii’s five-day drive on Maui. Donors are often hard to find during the summer, Blood Bank officials said. The blood drive takes place at the Cameron Center auditorium from 7 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. today, 7:45 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday and 7:30 a.m. to 1:45 p.m. Friday. The Maui News / COLLEEN UECHI photo

WAILUKU — Summertime is the peak season for temperatures, vacations and barbecues, but not, it seems, for blood donations.

With kids out of school and families on vacation, donor turnout is often low during the summer months.

“That’s an across-the-nation thing,” Blood Bank of Hawaii team leader Alex Evenson said Monday. “Here it’s a lot harder because we’re the only blood supplier for the whole state, and we don’t import.”

This week, the Blood Bank is holding a drive on Maui and hopes to get 150 donors over the final three days. The drive started Monday and continues from 7 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. today, 7:45 to 3 p.m. Wednesday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday and 7:30 a.m. to 1:45 p.m. Friday in the Cameron Center auditorium.

“For Hawaii, this year is particularly challenging,” said Karin Knudsen, Blood Bank of Hawaii director of marketing and recruitment.

Blood Bank of Hawaii collection specialists Samantha Wendling (left) and Emily Maldonado-Silverman store donated blood for transport to Oahu on Monday afternoon at the Cameron Center. The Maui News / COLLEEN UECHI photo

In January 2016, the Blood Bank stopped blood collections at its Dillingham headquarters in anticipation of rail construction. While 70 percent of the donors found a new place to regularly give blood, about 2,200 donors still haven’t, “which means this summer is more difficult than ever,” Knudsen said.

Maui and Hilo are the busiest locations in Hawaii, Evenson said. Maui blood drives bring in roughly 100 people a day, providing half of the 200 units needed to keep the state supply replenished.

“We’re always short . . . because the need is greater than the supply,” Evenson said.

Kahului School teacher Wendy Shishido tries to donate as often as she can.

“My father was a blood donor for many years, and it’s just something I thought was a good thing to do,” Shishido said Monday. “It doesn’t hurt. It’s kind of quick. You save lives. That’s most important.”

Kula resident Aaron Andrade said he gives a few times a year and thinks it’s “something good to do.” While the first time is probably the hardest, “after that it’s easy,” he said.

Collection specialists drew blood from 66 donors Monday. Evenson said 115 people made appointments for today, although walk-ins are always welcome. Blood donors must be in good health, at least 16 years of age, weigh at least 110 pounds and have a photo ID with a birthdate.

Donor hopefuls should also “make sure they ate breakfast and had a good night’s rest and plenty of water,” Evenson said. Even if people aren’t sure they qualify to give blood, “the best thing to do is just come in and try.”

Workers review a potential donor’s medical history and check vitals to see if they can donate. The whole interview and donation process takes about 45 minutes to an hour.

“That one pint can go to save three people,” Evenson said. “So with just this one hour giving the one pint, you’re saving three different people that you might not even know.”

For more information, visit bbh.org.

* Colleen Uechi can be reached at cuechi@mauinews.com.


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