Isle residents helpDonors continued to fill the Blood Bank of Hawaii today after hundreds responded to the plea for blood donations yesterday -- numbers not seen since Hurricane Iniki nearly a decade ago, a Blood Bank official said.
Many are moved by a desire to
help and the Blood Bank is
happy to have the donations
By Helen Altonn and Lisa Asato
The facility expected another busy day today with at least a dozen donors waiting when the doors opened at 6:30 a.m., and 121 appointments on the books. Walk-ins also were expected.
"We are seeing an overwhelming show of support as a result of the terrorist attacks on the mainland," said Stephanie Rosso, Blood Bank communications director.
Meanwhile, the American Red Cross in Hawaii also reported a large response to calls for monetary donations.
Amy Sufak, a Red Cross spokeswoman, said the agency has six phone lines open and has been receiving continuous calls over the last 24 hours. (See accompanying box.)
There are also about a half-dozen mental health counselor volunteers who are standing by to go to the disaster scene once air travel resumes, Sufak said.
At the Blood Bank's two Oahu locations, 407 pints of blood were collected yesterday, Rosso said. That means about 600 to 700 people were there, although some were deferred for various reasons. "It definitely was one of the busiest days in our memory," Rosso said.
The Blood Bank expected to ship the blood out today close to its normal schedule, either by commercial flights if they resume, or by military transport, she said. Contingency plans were being made with the Air National Guard.
The Blood Bank "owes a big mahalo" to Lt. Gov. Mazie Hirono, who "helped open a lot of doors quickly" for transportation through military channels, Rosso said.
Gov. Ben Cayetano had put Hirono in charge of coordinating the effort to move blood samples for testing from Hawaii to the mainland. He also has urged all cabinet officers to ask state employees -- about 45,000 of them -- to donate blood.
Although many people felt they had to donate blood immediately, Rosso said the hope is to spread out blood collection over several weeks. Platelets last five days, she said, so they would all expire the same day.
"Blood centers across the country are trying to spread out collections."
By 4:45 p.m. yesterday, the Blood Bank was already in a surplus. It had collected more than 270 pints, beating its daily goal of 200.
Dr. Robyn Yim, president and medical director of the Blood Bank, asked that regular donors come during their usual donation dates and times. Donors are urged to call and schedule an appointment. (See accompanying story.)
Blood Bank officials stressed that only qualified people should donate. According to the Blood Bank, donors must be in good health, at least 18 years old, weigh at least 110 pounds and have a valid photo ID.
At midday yesterday, a crowd of donors at the main Dillingham Boulevard center watched the latest TV news reports while waiting two hours or more for their turn.
"When I heard the news on the radio, you feel for all those people involved and you feel you have to do something," said Evan Sutton, a technician with Sprint PCS. "This is just the easiest, first thing that came to my mind. They need blood, it's just a matter of driving down here and waiting a couple of hours."
You can give money to the following organizations to help victims:
Financial aid is needed
>> American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund: Those wishing to contribute can call 1-800-HELP-NOW or 1-800-257-7575. Contributions can also be sent to the American Red Cross Hawaii State Chapter at 4155 Diamond Head Road, Honolulu, HI, 96815, or on the Web site at www.redcross.org.
Checks should be payable to the Disaster Relief Fund.
>> September 11th Fund: The Hawaii Community Foundation and others have established a fund to help victims and families.
Contributions can be made at any branch of American Savings Bank, Bank of Hawaii, Bank of the Orient, Central Pacific Bank, City Bank, Finance Factors, First Hawaiian Bank, Hawaii National Bank, HomeStreet Bank and Territorial Savings.
Cash or checks may be sent to The September 11th Fund c/o Hawaii Community Foundation, Pioneer Plaza, 900 Fort St. Mall, Suite 1300, Honolulu, HI, 96813. Online donations may be made at www.hcf-hawaii.org.
For more information, call 537-6333.
Blood donors are still needed to aid victims. Here's what you need to know:
Blood donors still wanted
>> You must be in good health, 18 years or older, 110 pounds or more and show a valid photo ID.
>> People are encouraged to schedule an appointment by calling 845-9966 on Oahu or 1-800-372-9966 from the neighbor islands. Donors will be needed for the next several weeks.
>> Extended hours: 2043 Dillingham Blvd., 6:30 a.m.-7 p.m. through Friday and 6:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
>> Extended hours: 126 Queen St., 6:30 a.m.-5 p.m. through Friday.
>> Blood bank mobile units and blood drives will operate under normal schedules. On the neighbor islands, regularly scheduled blood drives will go on.
>> To schedule a blood drive this month, businesses and organizations may call 848-4759.
Source: Blood Bank of Hawaii
Ken Sakamoto / Ksakamoto@Starbulletin.com
University of Hawaii student Troy Phan heard the call for blood donors on the radio at 6:30 a.m. and headed to the Blood Donor Clinic to donate.
Star-Bulletin reporter Richard Borreca contributed to this report.