Blood Bank of Hawaii facing ‘worst’ shortage in over 25 years

Local News

HONOLULU (KHON2) — The Blood Bank of Hawaii (BBH) is asking folks to roll up their sleeves and donate. They are experiencing a serious shortage of all blood types, which is surprising for the fall season.

BBH warned on Tuesday, Oct. 19, it is down to less than one day of supply.

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Officials said it is because of a nationwide shortage and a big chunk has to do with pandemic-related closures.

“Because we’re not used to the fall being so difficult across the country because no high schools are supporting blood drives, no colleges are open and those two organizations alone produce about 15 to 20% of the blood across the country,” said Todd Lewis, Blood Bank of Hawaii chief operating officer.

“This is the worst I’ve ever seen it in over a quarter century in my career, I’ve never seen it like this.”

Todd Lewis, Blood Bank of Hawaii chief operating officer

Lewis said, the shortage is also due to hospitals’ increased capacity and operations.

“The hospitals are opening up, they’re increasing [operating room] capacity to get caught up on canceled elective surgeries, those kinds of things,” Lewis said.

But donors, there is good news. The Blood Bank will accept those who got the Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer and Moderna vaccines — or no vaccine at all. If a donor previously tested positive for COVID, they will be eligible to donate blood 28 days after being symptom-free. The Blood Bank was only open at Dillingham, Waikele and Young Street due to COVID, but things are opening up.

“And Windward’s now open, starting October 15th, seven days a week,” Lewis said, “as well as we’re going back to Maui in November.

Lewis also has a challenge for those who are needle-averse.

“I appreciate and respect the fear of needles, but try it once. Just try it once, if it’s not for you afterwards, that’s okay. But, those people I ask and challenge them to do it, every one of ’em became a lifelong donor,” he said.

The Blood Bank says it needs to secure 150 to 200 daily appointments for all blood types to keep up with Hawaii’s demand, but O-Positive, O-Negative and A-Positive are needed most critically.

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Though it was initially reported that (808) 848-4745 was the number to call to make an appointment, BBH later clarified that this is the number for eligibility questions. Those interested in scheduling an appointment should call (808) 848-4770 or click here.

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