New rules expand donor pool for Hawaii Blood Bank

Blood Bank of Hawaii

New rules took effect Tuesday at the Blood Bank of Hawaii. The changes, announced last week, allow people who were previously restricted from giving blood to donate.

On Tuesday, donor Aaron Kaneao wasn’t anxious about giving blood, he was just anxious to be back. Kaneao’s medical problems previously eliminated him from the field of donors.

“I had my stroke in November, so I was deferred,” Kaneao said. “When I got the email, I was like, ‘Yeah, sign me up!’

“They said they have new technology and now people with stroke are able to give, so I was like, okay, I’m coming here today,” he added.

Others should know that previous restrictions have been lessened. Potential donors could be those who have beaten many forms of cancer.

“In the past you used to be permanently deferred from donating,” said Dr. Randal Covin of Blood Bank of Hawaii. “A couple of years ago, we switched it to a five-year cancer-free period. Now, we’re lowered that to a one-year cancer-free period.”

Cancer-free donors aren’t the only ones who have had eligibility changes.

“People with heart disease used to be permanently deferred from donating and not able to donate,” Dr. Covin said. “Now, if you’ve been seen by your doctor and you have not had symptoms or any activity restrictions for three months, it’s perfectly safe for you to donate.”

And in the past, anyone who had gotten a tattoo or piercing were told to wait a year. Now, if you get it at a licensed shop, you can give the next day.

The Blood Bank wants to stress these changes were not made because of a shortage of donors or blood.

“That not the reason why we are making the change,” Dr. Covin said. “We wouldn’t even compromise safety if that were the case.

“Most of these changes that we are making today have actually been present in the larger blood centers for the past five or 10 years,” he said.

For more on the new regulations, click here.

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