Rex Hospital sees big increase of donors in time of need

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- A steady flow of donors eager to give after the mass shooting in Orlando trickled into Rex Hospital's Blood Services center Tuesday morning.

Learn how to donate here.

Jim Meyer is a regular at the donation center but made sure not to miss his pre-scheduled appointment.

Jim Meyer donates blood regularly at REX Hospital

Heather Waliga

"When something bad happens, it brings out the good in people, and when there's a big need for blood a lot of people go do it," he said.

Rex Hospital reports a 20 percent increase in blood donations over the past two days following the shooting, including many first-time donors touched by the tragedy.

"Events like what happened in Orlando kind of connect the dots for people that may not have understood or known a lot about blood donation," said Rex donor services coordinator Emilie Sanders Watson.

It comes at a critical time of year. Blood banks across the Triangle are facing an urgent need as the summer approaches.

Read more: 7 things you should know about donating blood.

"This is a traditionally low point for blood donations. Our donors are busy," said Watson.

But not everyone is allowed to give.

Read about the revised FDA rule here.

Under a revised rule put into place last year by the Food and Drug Administration, only gay men who have been celibate for a full year can donate, a ban that has the gay community frustrated.

"We try to explain to people they're equal, but at the same time we have to explain a ban that doesn't make sense that's based more on homophobia than science," said Alliance of AIDS Services Exec. Dir. Hector Salgado.

After the deadliest attack against the LGBT community in U.S. history, Salgado believes the donations could help many more people.

"It's yet another barrier, and it's yet another travesty," he said.

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