HONOLULU (KHON2) — Drop by drop, blood supplies are dwindling nationwide as donations slow in the summer months.
“We need blood. Right now it’s very challenging going into the Labor Day weekend,” said Kim-Anh Nguyen, Blood Bank of Hawaii (BBH) president and CEO.
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The pandemic has also impacted the BBH’s healthy blood supply.
“Before the pandemic, about 70% of Hawaii’s blood supply came from schools, businesses, when we did blood drives a lot of that has dried up because of the concerns for COVID and then 20% came from us going to neighbor islands, so we’ve had to cut back by half,” Nguyen said.
Lt. Gov. Josh Green was there and also donated blood.
According to the American Red Cross, 38% of the population has type O positive blood, making it the most common.
Type O positive blood is in particularly short supply in the islands.
“Last night I was in the blood bank and unfortunately going into labor day weekend, we have less than 1 day supply of universal type o positive blood on our shelves,” Nguyen said.
The Hawaii Building & Construction Trades Council hosted a summer blood drive in Kailua with the BBH on Saturday, Aug. 21, called “Giving for a Better Tomorrow – Every Drop Counts.”
They were hoping to get 120 donors, but 160 showed up to donate about 400 pints.
“With the 400 pints can we save up to 1200 lives, so 400 pints somewhere around 500 total that came out,” Building Trades president Damien Kim said.
Those who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 can donate without worry. The CDC said there have been no reports of COVID-19 spreading through a blood transfusion.
“Here’s the good news: FDA rules on donor eligibility is very clear,” Nguyen said. “All three COVID vaccines have no impact on the ability to donate blood so if you go and you get vaccinated today, come join us. you can donate blood.”
The BBH can still use donations.
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“We are about 15% down as most blood centers are so we need 150 to 200 donors a day,” Nguyen said.