Saving lives is in donors’ blood

LIHU’E — When Elaine Hartless was a teenager, parental pressure made her give

blood.

“My mother was a blood bank coordinator, so I was a blood donor. It

wasn’t an option,” Hartless recalled.

Mom, now 71, is a donor herself now,

while Hartless has gone on to become a medical technician who supervises the

blood bank at Wilcox Memorial Hospital—one of four Kaua’i locations for an

islandwide blood drive next week.

The drive, organized by Blood Bank of

Hawai’i, will begin Tuesday at the Kaua’i Marriott Resort, then shift to the

Hyatt Regency Kaua’i on Wednesday, Wilcox on Thursday and Pacific Missile Range

Facility on Friday.

The blood of donors will eventually help save the lives

of accident victims, cancer or leukemia patients and others.

As usual,

rare blood types O positive and O negative are especially needed. But all are

welcome, officials said.

“A major crash or two can wipe out supplies. The

more blood that’s donated, the better,” said JoVita Sagadraca, a member of

Kaua’i Friends for Life, a blood drive advisory committee.

“On a good day,”

90 to 100 donors show up for drives at Wilcox, Hartless said. The faces often

are familiar.

“Forty percent are return donors,” she said. “Some have come

back so often that they’ve given as much as 40 or 50 pints. It’s

remarkable.”

Anyone 17 or older (because they aren’t legal adults,

17-year-olds need written permission) can give blood as long as they’re free of

communicable diseases and don’t have a cold. They also shouldn’t have high or

low blood pressure, which could cause them to be lightheaded when donating

blood, Hartlless said.

Tests of blood make certain that diseases aren’t

spread.

Hartless said donors who keep coming back often are motivated by an

experience in which they or a loved one needed blood transfusions —someone

like Sagadraca.

“My brother was diagnosed with a blood disease that

requires aggressive blood treatment,” she said.

Kaua’i is known statewide

for being one of the most dependable places for blood drives.

“There are

real generous people here,” Hartless said.

To accommodate that generosity,

officials recommend making a donor appointment by calling Blood Bank of Hawai’i

at 1-800-372-9966.

The process of giving blood can last up to 45 minutes,

and having an appointment makes it easier for everyone involved, officials

said.

Editor Pat Jenkins can be reached at 245-3618 (ext. 227) and

pjenkins@pulitzer.net

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