The country went into sudden shock after news broke that a mass shooting occurred at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, in the early hours of Sunday, June 12. Orlando police said that 50 people were fatally shot and more than 50 individuals were seriously injured. The local blood donation center in the Orlando area, OneBlood, received a tremendous amount of support from local residents who wanted to help the victims by donating blood. But can people from other states donate blood for Orlando? There isn't an exact way to ensure your blood goes to Orlando victims, but you can still try to help no matter where you live. Update: Reports that policies were changed to allow donations from men who have had sex with men are false. According to Susan Forbes from OneBlood, the organization must follow all requirements in place by the FDA. The FDA formerly had a lifetime ban on donations from men who have had sex with men, but it was recently changed to a ban on donations from men who have had sex with men in the past 12 months. OneBlood is still working to implement that policy. "We’re working as quickly as possible behind the scenes to implement the new policy, and we understand how people want to be able to help, and we thank them, but we have to make sure we have every thing right," Forbes told Bustle.
Earlier: For the first time, Orlando temporarily lifted its restrictions on those who can donate blood and allowed gay men to donate in the wake of this crisis. OneBlood had an unexpectedly high turnout of donors throughout the day on Sunday and they asked other donors to schedule an appointment for later in the week.
If you don't live in Orlando, you can still try to help by donating blood at your local Red Cross, but it's not certain that this blood will directly help these victims in Florida.
According to the Red Cross website, when individuals donate blood, the blood is stored for up to 42 days and shipped to hospitals in need. However, I don't think you can request to have your blood shipped to an Orlando hospital specifically. Instead, if you're looking to help the victims, you should encourage friends, family, and acquaintances who live in Orlando to reach out to OneBlood Orlando and schedule an appointment to donate blood in the area.
Images: Bustle/Isla Murray