With hospitals full and blood supply low, Blood Bank makes plea for donors

The nonprofit says it typically gets fewer donations during the holidays.
Published: Nov. 18, 2022 at 3:55 PM HST|Updated: Nov. 18, 2022 at 5:16 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - As the state grapplies with a shortage of hospital beds and workers, the Blood Bank of Hawaii is struggling with a shortage of its own.

The nonprofit says it typically gets fewer donations during the holidays. But with a record number of patients in the state’s hospitals, it hopes more people will roll up their sleeves this weekend.

At the Blood Bank’s Dillingham location, only one blood donor came in during the normally busy lunch hour.

“We usually have a capacity of about 30 donors per day 30 to 40 on a great day. Today, we have 16 appointments, far less than we would like to see at this location,” said Fred McFadden, director of donor services.

“We’re seeing a similar lack of appointments at our other locations as well.”

With fewer donors coming in and more patients needing blood, inventory is running dangerously low.

“Coming out of the pandemic, blood use at hospitals have been high,” McFadden said. “A combination of hospital capacity high with folks planning their holiday celebrations,”

The Blood Bank says it’s in urgent need of O-Negative, O-Positive and A-Positive blood, which are down to about a one-day supply.

And as more people hit the roads this Thanksgiving holiday week, the Blood Bank wants to make sure it’s ready.

“We know accidents happen. And these trauma situations where bloods are needed at our hospitals for those cases, as well as regular surgeries and transfusion needs,” McFadden said.

Other states usually offer backup blood but “the same challenge we’re seeing here, we’re also seeing with blood centers on the mainland. So that’s less the availability of importing blood from a sister center somewhere on the mainland,” he added.

To draw donors in, the Blood Bank is offering a Black Friday promotion. The Hawaiian Pie Company will give a voucher for a free mini pie to each person who donates at any location on Nov. 25.

For the entire month of December, Hawaii Foodbank will match every blood donation made with a meal donation.

“Each donation potentially saves three lives. So what a nice way to give thanks for the blessings you have in your family,” he said.

Healthy donors interested in registering can visit bbh.org or call (808) 848-4770.

Walgreens will be hosting three community blood drives on Oahu, each from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.:

  • Nov. 19: Walgreens Laulani Village Shopping Center
  • Nov. 26: Walgreens Kailua
  • Dec. 3: Walgreens Koko Marina Center

BBH will also hold a drive at Cameron Center on Maui from Nov. 29 to Dec. 1.

Donors who attend one of the special blood drives on Oahu and use CODE 333 will receive a goodie bag and be entered into a raffle for a chance to win a $100 Walgreens gift card.