HONOLULU (KHON2) — The Blood Bank of Hawaii is asking folks to roll up their sleeves and donate.

Officials said there is a shortage of O negative blood and members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) 1186 trade union organized a drive to help at Damien Memorial School on Saturday, June 4.

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Hands squeezed and blood pumped at Damien on Saturday; About 140 appointments were made for the blood drive. It took a lot of organization to put on the event with so many folks coming out to donate, but IBEW 1186 said it was all worth it.

“Lot of phone calls, a lot of good people, it’s definitely a team effort, a lot of great unions,” said IBEW 1186 organizer Michael Pacheco.

“For every pint that’s given, you can save up to about three lives. Most poeple don’t know it takes about an hour of your time, most of that is paperwork, probably about five, 10 minutes on the blood draw, we’ll feed you, put a shirt on you and you get really great memories.”

Michael Pacheco, IBEW 1186 organizer

The Blood Bank of Hawaii said donations typically drop in the summer when school is out. The decline in donations comes at a bad time because the supply of universal donor blood — O negative — is in dire shape.

“But the sad thing is though, if you’re O negative, you can only get O negative,” said Blood Bank of Hawaii account manager Traci Takehara. “So, that need for that blood is always so needed because especially in trauma situations, we don’t have time to figure out, you know, the hospitals don’t have time to figure out what their blood type is so they just give them O negative because that’s a universal blood.”

Stock of O negative blood is just above a 1-day supply in Hawaii. The Blood Bank said the biggest thing holding folks back is the fear of needles, but as one donor said, locals have gotten pretty familiar with those.

“We all get our shots here and there,” donor Tracy Hayashi said. “Same thing as a small poke, don’t even hurt and you just relax, later they’ll give you refreshments, energize yourself up and go home.”

Takehara agreed.

“It’s a mind over matter thing,” she said.

“And I tell people who tell me that, ‘If your mom was in the hospital today, would you still say you’re afraid of needles and not donate blood?’ I think their answer would change drastically.

Traci Takehara, Blood Bank of Hawaii account manager

Donation drives are also scheduled on Sunday, June 5 at Waikele Center, Kapolei Commons and the Blood Bank’s Young Street location. Click here to learn more about the Help, Understanding & Group Support (HUGS) nonprofit that is partnering with the Blood Bank.

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Donations are accepted at all times of the year, but the Blood Bank will fund essential programs for Hawaii’s seriously ill keiki with HUGS for every donor who gives back through the end of August.