International student body makes BYU-Hawaii largest college donor of negative blood type in state

Written by: 
Patrick Campbell

BYU-Hawaii has the most negative blood type donors out of all a single college in the state of Hawaii, according to Celina Quach, donor recruitment account manager of Blood Bank of Hawaii.

"Because of the big ethnic mix in general here in Hawaii, a lot of the Polynesian and Asian types are positives, so we are normally overly abundant in A positive, B positive, and O positive," said Quach.

"The awesome thing about BYU is because of your ethnic mix because of the type of students you have, we get more negative [blood type] donors here at BYUH than at any other college campus in Hawaii."

Quach said she was on campus to support the BYUH Service Centers blood drive, a two-day event on Sept 28-29.

According to BYUH OrgSync, 186 BYUH students from 11 countries comprised of seven different ethnicities participated in the drive, which Quach said contributed 57 units of blood that have the potential to assist 171 patients.

Service Center Student Supervisor Thomas Johnson, a sophomore from Laie majoring in biomedicine, said, "I think [the blood drive] went wonderfully. It was great to see all the students come out along with a few community members. This is one of the few situations where lines are a good thing. We had a lot of people wanting to serve."

The Service Center staff said they were able to fill their 160 available appointments in advance but still allowed walk-ins anytime both days.

"We had to send students away because there were so many students who wanted to donate, and there's just not enough attendants to help them," said Service Center employee Katelynne Halliday, a junior from Utah majoring in art. "It’s really cool that there’s so many students who want to serve and donate blood on campus. We get to the point where we had to cut it off and say, 'You can’t serve.'"

Johnson explained students who make an appointment get in quicker because they're the first priority. “There are times when you can walk in and not wait, but its just safer to sign up before," said Johnson.

Halliday added, "Most people were really excited. I think it's a fun thing to do. It's interesting. For me, I hadn't done it before until last semester. You get to learn your blood type and you get snacks."

Quach explained because Hawaii is an island, the blood bank depends on donations. She said, "Our mission is to provide a safe and adequate supply of blood for the state of Hawaii, but right now we are barely making it.

"We are able to import units [via plane], but those costs get passed down to the patients. If we can collect and process it here, it's just a lot easier and cheaper for everyone else," said Quach.

She added, “My biggest push is the civic duty of it all; coming together as a state to help our patients.”

She continued, "We take for granted, our blood is running through our bodies. Our friends and family are okay, but it comes down to the community because without volunteer donors there's no where else where we can get the [quantity] we need."

Due to the closure of Blood Bank of Hawaii’s main donation center in Kalihi, Quach said 65 percent of their blood supply comes from mobile sites through volunteer drives at schools, businesses, and other community organizations.

While promoting the blood drive at World Fest and soliciting students to participate, Halliday said the most common reason for not participating was because students said they were afraid of needles.

"There were a few who said they were afraid of needles but still wanted to do it sometime, just later," said Halliday. "So we would talk to them to try and help them get over that fear.”

Fear of needles is the most common reason for people declining to donate blood across the state, said Quach.

"I've never met someone that says, 'I love needles. Put it in me two times,'” Quach said with a laugh. "Nobody likes it. Nobody wants to spend an hour of their day [donating blood].”

But giving blood isn’t about the donor, said Quach. "It’s about why we do it, the people we are servicing, [and] the patients in the hospitals. They're not afraid of the needles they're afraid of maybe not seeing their family tomorrow. They're afraid they wont see their children graduate. That maybe they wont make it through another day.

"It’s the easiest way to give back to your community."

According to Quach, it takes two months for a person’s blood cells to fully replenish themselves after a donation, which is why the blood drives are always two months apart.

Johnson said the next blood drive will be on Dec. 7 and 8. Students interested in making appointments will see booths around campus closer to the date, but they can always come into the Service Center office located in the Aloha Center for more info or to sign up.

Date Published: 
Friday, October 6, 2017
Last Edited: 
Friday, October 6, 2017