LIHU‘E — Gary Rexrode said he wanted to help as he checked in with the Blood Bank of Hawai‘i site at the Kaua‘i War Memorial Convention Hall Tuesday.
“I heard they were short of O blood type. I can help with his shortage. I used to donate blood when I was on the Mainland,” Rexrode said. “This is the first time I’m doing it here.”
Matelda Langi-Fifita of the Kaua‘i District Health Office was in the same boat, donating blood for the first time. She was joined by Lauren Guest, the Public Health Preparedness Planner, whose travel history prevented her from contributing blood on this drive.
“This is my first time doing something like this,” Langi-Fifita said. “This is all new to me.”
These were people with confirmed appointments for donating blood when the Blood Bank returned to Kaua‘i for the first of three days of collections. The Blood Bank stopped its outer island collections since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, five months ago.
“It was always our intent to resume neighbor island drives as soon as it was safe enough to do so,” said Todd Lewis, the chief operating officer for the BBH. “Kaua‘i was the first neighbor island drive to be canceled because of the health crisis and so we wanted Kaua‘i to be the first island we returned to.”
The first of three days had a goal of servicing 140 donors a day to stabilize the current blood supply at the blood bank. The target was surpassed with walk-in donors being met by Jaclyn Fujimoto of the Blood Bank who offered her thanks and a calling card with a reminder to keep checking for any open spots.
The blood bank is currently needing all blood types, and an immediate and high need for O-Positive and O-Negative blood types, states information from the BBH.
“I started donating blood when they came to the high schools,” said Hailey Lenz. “I heard they needed help so I’m here.”
The Blood Bank of Hawai‘i will maintain hours of operation from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., Wednesday, and from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m., Thursday at the Kauai War Memorial Convention Hall collection site.
“Kaua‘i, though relatively small in donor population, represents the diversity and commitment of donors that we need to safeguard the local blood supply, both in quantity and diversity of blood types,” Lewis said. “This drive will help to stabilize our inventory of blood types O-Positive and O-Negative, along with the overall supply of all types. We are deeply grateful to Kaua‘i donors who have completely filled all appointment spots, and to Mayor Derek S.K. Kawakami who is leading by example as a blood donor.”