Hawaii people are good blood donors, but because of different reasons many not allowed to donate. That will soon change.
Starting Apr. 1, the Blood Bank of Hawaii will institute new eligibility criteria that allow more people to give the gift of life. The change follows the lead of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and major blood donor centers on the mainland.
"This is huge. I don't think we've ever had this many significant changes that open the doors to new donors," said Kim-Anh Nguyen, President and CEO of the Blood Bank of Hawaii.
Most of the changes in eligibility are for those with previous health issues, like cancer.
"In the past we used to permanently defer any one with a history of cancer. A couple of years ago we were able to make a change that said if it's been five years that you've been cancer free, you're able to donate. Now we've pushed it down to one year," said Dr. Randal Covin, Medical Director at the Blood Bank of Hawaii.
Until now, if you had a heart condition, stroke or mini stroke you were permanently deferred. Now you can donate as long as you have been seen by a doctor and have no symptoms or restrictions. The same rules apply to people with lung conditions and autoimmune disorders. There are also big changes for those with tattoos.
"Used to make everyone that had a tattoo wait for a year, but again, we know it's acceptable through federal regulations that if you had your tattoo done at a state licensed or state regulated tattoo shop, you can donate without having to wait for a year," added Covin.
For the blood bank it means new donors, which are badly needed.
"We're in spring break. We actually open the door and we try to have a week supply. We're not there, so we actually do need donors to come in," said Nguyen.
The FDA has approved all of the Blood Bank of Hawaii's donor eligibility criteria changes.
Another change donors will see is in the donor questionnaire. There will be different questions and if you have given blood, those embarrassing questions asked out loud will be no more.