With hospitals full and blood supplies low, the blood bank is asking for donors

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) — As the state grapples with shortages of hospital beds and labor, the Hawaii Blood Bank grapples with a shortage of its own.

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

At the Dillingham blood bank site, only one blood donor walked in during the normally busy lunch hour.

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

“We see a similar lack of appointments at our other locations.”

With fewer donors and more patients in need of blood, inventories are dangerously low.

“After the pandemic, blood consumption in hospitals was high,” McFadden said. “A combination of high hospital capacity and people planning their holiday celebrations,”

The blood bank says it urgently needs O-Negative, O-Positive and A-Positive blood reduced to about a day’s supply.

And as more people take to the streets this Thanksgiving holiday week, the blood bank wants to make sure it’s ready.

“We know that accidents happen. And those trauma situations where there’s a need for blood in our hospitals for those cases, as well as regular surgeries and transfusion needs,” McFadden said.

Other states typically offer substitute blood, but “the same challenge that we see here, we also see with blood centers on the mainland. So that’s less of an opportunity to import blood from a sister center somewhere on the mainland,” he added.

To attract donors, the blood bank is offering a Black Friday promotion. The Hawaiian Pie Company is giving a coupon for a free mini pie to anyone who donates anywhere on November 25th.

For the entirety of December, the Hawaii Foodbank will match every blood donation with a food donation.

“Each donation potentially saves three lives. What a lovely way to say thank you 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 is hosting three community blood drives on Oahu, each from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.:

  • Nov 19: Walgreens Laulani Village mall
  • November 26: Walgreen’s Kailua
  • December 3: Walgreen’s Koko Marina Center

BBH will also be hosting a ride at the Cameron Center on Maui from November 29th to December 1st.

Donors attending one of Oahu’s special blood drives using CODE 333 will receive a gift bag and be entered into a drawing for a chance to win a $100 Walgreens gift certificate.