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Blood bank running dry as hurricane dissuades donors, cancels drives

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The Blood Bank of Hawaii urgently needs blood donors due to a lower-than-normal supply.

The blood bank reported a low turnout at donor centers this week as residents prepared for Tropical Storm Iselle and Hurricane Julio.

As of noon Friday the blood bank had a two-day supply to accommodate needs, below the standard five-day supply. "We usually operate at a five-day blood supply level,"said spokeswoman Vanessa Sim. "That’s our preference. … When it goes below that, we start to get concerned."

Donor centers will be open Saturday with extended hours from 6:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The sites usually close at 2:30 p.m. Blood drives and appointments were canceled Friday in anticipation of the tropical storm.

Though more than 200 people on Kauai collectively donated 229 units of blood Thursday, the blood bank still needs more. If the weather worsens due to Julio, "we need to be prepared for that,"Sim said. "About 200 donors are needed every day to meet the needs of Hawaii’s patients."

In an emailed statement, Kim-Anh Nguyen, president and chief executive officer of the Blood Bank of Hawaii, said, "Our first priority remains providing our hospitals continuous access to adequate blood components for patient care needs. We have been working with our partners — hospitals, HAH (Healthcare Association of Hawaii), Emergency Services, donor groups and even other blood centers — to assess and respond to the hurricanes’ possible impact on blood component supply and delivery. When it comes to natural disasters, we hope for the best but prepare for the worst."

Those interested in donating can go to the Dillingham Donor Center, 2043 Dillingham Blvd., or the Young Street Donor Center, 1907 Young St. Donors must be in good health, 18 or older, at least 110 pounds and have a valid photo identification with their date of birth.

For more information or to schedule an appointment, visit bbh.org or call 848-4770.

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