BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Local blood center LifeSouth is desperate for blood donations, despite a large response of donors wishing to show support after the gay nightclub attack in Orlando that left 49 dead and many injured.
“The response to donate prompted by the mass shooting in Orlando was amazing,” said LifeSouth Vice President of Operations J.B. Bowles. “We were able to assist the blood center in Orlando with blood, but we were limited on how much we could help because of our own shortage.”
LifeSouth says the mass shooting brought many donors from the LGBT community to their headquarters in Gainesville, Fla. This comes after the FDA recently changed guidelines to allow donations from men who have had sex with another man. Previously, there was a lifetime ban. Now, men who have not had sexual contact with another man in the past 12 months are allowed to donate.
“With the events in Orlando, many of the LGBT community were showing support by donating blood. We have been preparing for a change in our policy that we planned to implement later this summer, but with the overwhelming response during this crisis, we made the decision to move up the timeline,” said LifeSouth Vice President of Quality Jill Evans.
This change in policy follows another one in May that accommodates transgender individuals who wish to donate.
“For our regular donors, we ask that you come in and bring a friend. If you are a first time donor, now is the perfect time to experience the process and help your community,” Bowles said. “You will be glad you did.”
LifeSouth asks donors to call their local blood center to make an appointment to donate or stop by a bloodmobile. Donors must be 17 years or older, or 16 with parental permission, and weigh at least 110 pounds. Donors must be in good health, and photo ID is required.
For information on upcoming blood drives call 205-943-6000