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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, June 30, 2002

Hawai'i needs blood donors

By Shayna Coleon
Advertiser Staff Writer

While the rest of the nation's blood banks are running on a supply of a day or less — half of what is considered adequate — officials at the Blood Bank of Hawai'i said the local situation is not as critical.

However, donors are especially needed in the summer, Hawai'i officials said last week.

"We are OK right now," said Stephanie Rosso, director of communications for the Hawai'i blood bank. "In order for us to keep a safe level, we like to be at a two- or three-day supply. That's a normal level, so we're all right."

On average, the blood bank receives about 200 to 250 pints a day.

However, the local blood supply may fluctuate, especially since summer shortages are common, said Blood Bank of Hawai'i's president and medical director Dr. Robyn Yim.

"Keeping the blood supply at a safe level during the summer is quite challenging because schools are out and many people go on vacation," Yim said.

Blood banks nationwide told the government yesterday that the summer slump started earlier this year and seems worsened by post-Sept. 11 donor apathy as well as a decrease in people eligible to give because of new precautions against mad cow disease.

Almost half of the American Red Cross' blood donor regions and one-third of the nation's independent blood banks have tight supplies — a day's supply of blood or less — on hand. The South seems particularly hard hit, said America's Blood Centers, a group that represents independent blood banks.

The Red Cross provides about half the nation's blood supply and ABC banks supply the other half. Underscoring the urgent need, the two competing groups issued a joint appeal for donors this week.

In Hawai'i, nearly 60 percent of the population is eligible to donate blood, but only 2 percent do, Rosso said.

To donate blood, call the Blood Bank of Hawai'i at 845-9966 or visit www.bbh.org to find the nearest blood drive location.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Reach Shayna Coleon at scoleon@honoluluadvertiser.com or 525-8004.