Blood donations urged in SF in wake of Florida mass shooting

Organizations are calling for blood donations following the worst mass shooting in U.S. history that occurred early Sunday morning at a crowded gay nightclub in Florida.

OneBlood, a blood donation nonprofit based in Florida, wrote in a statement, “There is an urgent need for O Negative, O Positive and AB Plasma blood donors following a mass shooting in Orlando, Florida. Dozens of people have been injured and taken to area hospitals.”

A gunman wielding an assault-type rifle and a handgun opened fire inside the crowded nightclub early Sunday, killing at least 50 people before dying in a gunfight with SWAT officers, police said. It was the worst mass shooting in American history.

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Mason Jairo Olaya-Smith, a San Francisco native who identifies as queer, said he was called by someone with the Red Cross who asked for his blood.

“The guy on the other line sounded pretty distressed,” Olaya-Smith said, “so at first I thought it was a prank call. He finally got around to saying the shooting had occurred and Orlando was scrambling to provide care to people with lesser seen blood types.”

Olaya-Smith noted a ban on gay men who have had sex from donating blood meant “most of the victim’s social network will not be able to make donations that could in theory save their friends lives.”

Later Sunday morning, OneBlood issued a statement saying the required supply of blood had been met – but the need is far from over.

“The blood center is at full capacity and is asking donors to help over the next several days to help replenish the blood supply,” OneBlood said in a statement.

The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, a self-described order of queer, radical nuns who made their first group appearance in San Francisco in 1979, is also organizing blood donations in its chapters throughout the U.S., including Orlando.

For ways to donate blood in San Francisco, contact the Red Cross.

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