A Sandy Springs blood donation center says it has seen an increase in people donating following the massacre of 49 people in a mass shooting at an Orlando gay nightclub this weekend.
“We have definitely seen an uptick from normally what we are used to … and a lot of first-time donors,” said Toni Holmes, spokesperson for LifeSouth Community Blood Centers, a nonprofit community blood supplier for more than 100 hospitals in Alabama, Florida and Georgia. The Sandy Springs site is located on Ashford-Dunwoody Road across from Perimeter Mall.
The donations in Sandy Springs began steadily coming in on Sunday and have continued through Monday. Because of the volume of people wanting to donate, Holmes said people are asked to make an appointment by calling 404-329-1994 and also visiting www.lifesouth.org for more information.
LifeSouth has been inundated by members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community in Florida wanting to donate and the center said it will accept blood from gay and bisexual men who have been celibate for one year. Gay and bisexual men who have not been celibate for the past 12 months will not be allowed to donate blood. The policy is part of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s guidelines.
Holmes said she does not know of any surge of LGBT people wanting to donate at its Sandy Springs center or its other Georgia centers in Gainesville and McDonough.
Holmes likened the response of blood donors to those after Sept. 11. But she said Georgia was already in the midst of a blood shortage so it is unlikely much of the blood donated here will go to help the victims in Orlando because of the outpouring or blood donations in Florida.
But all blood donations are needed, especially in the summer months when donations tend to taper off, Holmes said. LifeSouth issued an emergency appeal for blood on June 3 and is especially calling for donations of Type O-negative and O-positive blood and platelets.
“The only way we can catch up is by getting more donors into our centers and onto our bloodmobiles,” said LifeSouth Vice President of Operations J.B. Bowles in a statement. “We believe that with another solid week of collections, we may finally be able to catch up and have the needed blood supply for the community’s hospitals.”