LIHUE — When Val Tokuuke and Roy Shioi of Shioi Construction presented the company’s $15,000 to the Wilcox Foundation Tuesday, they were thrilled to learn the amount would be part of the Greenbaum Challenge and matched.
“This is wonderful,” said Ken Greenbaum, who along with his wife Betsy of 60 years, stopped off before heading to a medical appointment at the Wilcox Health Center. “The Greenbaum Challenge was inspired by our 60th anniversary with the help of Andy Bestwick of the Wilcox Foundation. He called us one day, and said he had this idea to help get a blood irradiator for the hospital.”
The Greenbaums were pleased to learn that Shioi Construction is a regular contributor to the Wilcox Foundation, and thrilled to find out that the firm would be involved in the installation of the irradiator — if, and when the goal is reached.
“We have a goal of $350,000 which includes construction, delivery, and installation,” Bestwick said. “With the Greenbaum Challenge and the Shioi contribution, we’re at more than $180,000. We’re nearly there.”
Ken, describing themselves as “long-term snowbirds,” said they wrote letters to friends, primarily on the South Shore, with amazing results. People donated.
The goal is to support cancer care at Wilcox Health through the funding of a blood irradiator, a piece of equipment which is critical for trauma and cancer patients’ recovery. The equipment treats donated blood to eliminate white blood cells, avoiding a rare but serious complication — transfusion-associated graft versus host disease, or TA-GAVHD, where the untreated donor’s blood white cells attacks the recipient’s body.
“My brother passed from cancer,” Ken said. “We have used this hospital on several occasions and found it to be a wonderful institution. We believe the community has been good to us — look at the responses to the letter we wrote — and we’d like to return that kindness. We want to be here, and anything we can do to make this hospital provide the best medical care available is our pleasure.”
Jen Chahanovich, Wilcox CEO, said irradiated blood takes 24 to 48 hours to get to Wilcox because the island does not have a blood irradiator. Additionally, irradiated blood has a very short shelf life.