Maui News

Got blood? Hawaiʻi launches Blood Bank Madness competition with 7 teams in 6 states

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In search of a way to reach blood donors between the annual winter and summer campaigns, the Blood Bank of Hawaiʻi marketing team came up with a competition inspired by the popular NCAA Division I College Basketball tournament. Get ready for Blood Bank Madness.

Next week, the inaugural 2022 tournament begins at a time when the vital fluid of red blood cells, platelets and plasma has never been more needed across the country with donations down during the global COVID-19 pandemic.

“The nation is still in a national blood crisis for the first time ever,” said Justin Martin, marketing manager of the Blood Bank of Hawaiʻi.

All blood types are needed to help patients who require transfusions for surgeries, blood disorders or effects of cancer treatments. On average, 150 to 200 donations a day are needed to meet the blood supply need of Hawai’i, Martin said.

Round 1 of the eight-team tournament runs March 14 to 20. Hawaiʻi battles the Medic Regional Blood Center in Tennessee and Kentucky. Also competing in first round matchups:

  • Houchin Community Blood Bank (CA)
  • Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center (South TX)
  • Carter Blood Care (North TX)
  • Community Blood Bank (Northwest PA & Western NY)
  • ImpactLife (IA)
  • ConnectLife (NY)
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“The [tournament] winner gets bragging rights this year,” Martin said. “But everyone wins because we are saving lives.”

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Blood Bank of Hawaiʻi, the state’s only blood bank, collects blood only three times a year on neighboring islands due to economic viability and resources. For round 1, Blood Bank of Hawaiʻi only is collecting on Oʻahu.

“If we survive to go onto the next round, or should I say when we win, we’ll be at the Cameron Center on Maui,” Martin said.

On March 23 and 24, the Blood Bank of Hawai’i will be at the J. Walter Cameron Center at 95 Mahalani St. in Wailuku. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, it is by appointment only. To schedule an appointment, go to bbh.org/#blooddrive. On March 23, appointments are from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., and on March 24, they are 6 a.m. to 3 p.m.

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“We usually do very well on Maui,” Martin said. “Appointments usually fill up.”

The winner of Hawaiʻi and Medic advances to meet the winner of Community Blood Bank (Northwest PA & Western NY) and Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center (South TX).

For participants, the Blood Bank of Hawaiʻi reached out across the country to other members of ADRP/America’s Blood Centers, an organization for community-based, independent blood centers. The first seven blood centers to respond are in this yearʻs tournament, Martin said.

There were more centers that wanted to participate, but not the 16 needed to add another round. Martin said the hope is the tournament is successful and will become an annual drive with more teams participating across the country in the years to come.

In each round, the number of donations that each blood bank receives is totaled. The blood center with the largest percentage gain in donations compared to the same week in 2021 will win and move on to the next round.

“We designed it that way in order to make the competition fair between blood centers of different sizes that serve different geographic and population centers,” Blood Bank of Hawai’i CEO Todd Lewis said in a news release. “We hope that all donors, especially if you’re a basketball or sports fan, will come out to support our home team.”

Martin, who is from Illinois, said the idea of Blood Bank Madness stemmed in part from the Illinois Fighting Illini rising to No. 1 last year.

Donors can request being a “Max Red” donor, which means a donor is able to give more of the most needed blood component. On Maui, donors can give more red blood cells or more plasma. For more information about being a “MAX Red” donor, click here.

Donors and fans can follow the competition via social media. During the tournament, donors also are encouraged to post a selfie using the hashtag #BloodBankMadness.

All COVID-19 safety and sanitation protocols remain in place for the protection of staff and donors. For safety and COVID-19 related information, visit https://www.bbh.org/covid-19/.

Cammy Clark
Cammy Clark works for Maui Now as a news reporter. She has more than 30 years of journalism experience, previously working for the Miami Herald as the Florida Keys Bureau chief and sport writer, the Washington Post, St. Petersburg Times, United Press International, the Orange County Register and WRC-TV/George Michael Sports Machine. She grew up in New Hampshire and studied print journalism at American University in Washington, D.C., where she was the sports editor for the college newspaper, The Eagle.
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