There were reports that the Orlando mass shooting at Pulse Nightclub left Florida blood banks in crisis mode, prompting a temporary lift of the “gay ban” as a desperate measure. OneBlood, a foundation that operates blood donation centers in the southeastern part of the U.S., is in urgent need of O negative, O positive, and AB plasma, says OneBlood spokesperson Pat Michaels.
“Dozens of people have been injured and taken to area hospitals. We understand the sentiment that people want to help and that giving blood is a profound way to help but we are asking those who have other blood types to give us some space for now.”
Social media went to work assuming that meant that OneBlood was allowing gay men to donate blood or plasma, even if they are sexually active.
— Mic (@mic) June 12, 2016
However, OneBlood has issued their own statement, admitting that while they are desperate for donations, they are respecting FDA rules and that the ban on donations from gay men is still in effect.
All FDA guidelines remain in effect for blood donation. There are false reports circulating that FDA rules were being lifted. Not true.
— OneBlood (@my1blood) June 12, 2016
According to the Washington Post, OneBlood’s system is not quite up to date with FDA guidelines. The blood bank’s system lacks a revision that states that gay men may donate blood as long as they have not engaged in sex with another man in at least a year. Michaels says that OneBlood’s system will be updated by the end of the year.
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OneBlood is asking for blood donations from generally healthy people who are 16-years-old or older and who weigh at least 110 pounds, and the response has been huge. Hundreds of people have responded and are waiting hours in lines that stretch for blocks in an effort to support their community after Omar Mateen opened fired at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, killing 50 people and injuring 53 more. The mass shooting has since been called the “worst mass shooting in U.S. history” and deemed a “domestic terrorist act” seemingly carried out by Mateen alone. The shooter is among the dead and allegedly, an ISIS supporter and the subject of a 2014 FBI investigation.
The victims of the nightclub shooting are still inside the nightclub as officials are still trying to piece together what happened and how the gunman got his weapons. A recent press conference by Orlando police officials stated the majority of the weapons were bought in the last few days.
The response for blood donations has been so swift that OneBlood donation centers are extending their hours and the Council on American-Muslim Relations is encouraging Muslims in the Orlando community to donate blood.
Those interested in donating blood to OneBlood blood bank can find the nearest donation center or Big Red Bus location by visiting www.oneblood.org or call 1-888-936-6283.
[Image by Komsan Loonprom/Shutterstock]