BYU-Idaho is hosting a blood drive on June 22-24 and June 29-July 1. After the shooting in Orlando on June 11, citizens are looking for ways to help the victims. Donating blood is one of the many ways students can help reach out to those in need.
Forty-nine Americans were shot and killed and 53 more were injured at an Orlando night club, making it the deadliest shooting in American history, according to The Wall Street Journal.
ISIS claimed responsibility for the shooting, but the full role of the terrorist group’s involvement is unknown, according to Time Magazine.
“I didn’t know that ISIS had crossed over to our borders,” said Karl Lovell, a sophomore studying psychology. “It hits a lot closer to home because I didn’t realize the threat was so close.”
Angel Colon, a survivor of the Orlando shooting, said he could not have survived without blood transfusions, according to ABC News.
Colon was shot while trying to shield a female companion.
OneBlood, a non-profit community organization located in Orlando, received a surplus of volunteers and donors willing to help those in need for several days after the attack.
“Thousands of people packed our donor centers and blood drives eager to donate and help replenish the blood supply,” according to the OneBlood website. “Your immediate response to help patients in need was unprecedented and remarkable.”
Joshua Unger, a volunteer for the blood drive and a junior studying biochemistry, said students can learn more about their eligibility to donate blood on redcrossblood.org.
Donors must be at least 17 years of age, weigh at least 110 pounds and be in good general health, according to the American Red Cross website.
“In order to prepare to donate, eating a large protein meal the night before, a decent breakfast the morning of and drinking plenty of water does the trick,” Unger said.
Humanitarian organizations such as the American Red Cross and OneBlood have stated they are especially in need of O Negative, O Positive and AB Plasma donors to help Orlando victims, according to the OneBlood website.
Students can contact their local physician about receiving a blood test to see what their blood type is, according to the American Red Cross website.
Unger said many BYU-I students who have traveled outside of the country may be unable to donate blood since they may have contracted diseases such as the Zika virus or tuberculosis.
He said this could be a potential problem for many returned missionaries.
Unger said students are encouraged to donate blood if they are eligible.
In December 2015, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration revised its recommendations for donors, according to the FDA website.
Prior to these revisions, men who had participated in same-gender sex were deferred indefinitely from donating blood, according to the FDA website. Now, the deferment lasts 12 months.
Many gay rights activists feel this still perpetuates negative stereotypes dating back to the beginning of the AIDS crisis, according to ABC News.
“I am married,” said Rob Domenico, a board member and chief fundraiser at The Center, Orlando’s main LGBT community center. “I am gay and sexually active with my husband, of course. But I am ineligible to donate blood. So at a time when I am needed the most to help save my brothers and sisters, I can do nothing. It is very frustrating.”
Many people close to victims of the shooting are unable to donate their blood. That’s when they look to the rest of America for help, according to The Telegraph.
“A lot of people say that we don’t support the LGBT community, but we do,” said Laura Earl, a junior studying horticulture. “(Donating blood) is something simple that we can do that a lot of gay people can’t do. It shows that we support them even if we don’t agree with their lifestyle.”
Lovell said he feels guilty knowing that many members of the LGBT community cannot donate blood. He said he wants to help out in any way possible because he knows many people are willing but unable.
There are four types of donations, according to the American Red Cross website. There is whole-blood donation, plasma apheresis, platelet apheresis and double-red-blood-cell donation.
Unger said donating blood will help ease the minds of patients who need blood, as well as their families.
“My sister needs blood transfusions on a regular basis,” Unger said. “It is easy for me to be motivated to donate blood to save lives like my sister’s.”
Unger said there are many opportunities for students to help with the blood drive, even if they are not eligible to donate.
“We are very happy to take on more volunteers,” Unger said. “Before the blood drive, there are weekly meetings where volunteers call and sign up donors every Thursday at 6 p.m. in the Tutoring Center of the McKay Library, room 294. Sometimes pizza is provided. During the blood drive, there will be plenty of opportunities to serve.”