Donors Line Up To Give Blood In Florida

Jun 12, 2016
Originally published on June 12, 2016 7:46 pm
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MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

And now we hear from NPR's Hansi Lo Wang, who's outside a blood bank in Orlando. Hansi, thank you so much for speaking with us.

HANSI LO WANG, BYLINE: Thank you for having me, Michel.

MARTIN: And what's the scene where you are?

WANG: Well, it's a much smaller line than it was a few hours ago, and that's because the blood bank is at capacity. They said they've had to turn people away starting a few hours ago because it's just such a great response. And they're asking people to come back tomorrow and the next day because there's still will be a need to replenish the blood bank after such a traumatic night last night. Yeah.

MARTIN: Were you able to talk to some of the people who were in line and who were waiting to give blood? And what were some of the things on their minds?

WANG: Yeah. A lot of people still numb, in shock. I was able to talk to a number of families who are Muslim-American, and they told me that they are really feeling - an in uncomfortable situation. I talked to actually a spokesperson for the local Islamic centers here. They are planning tonight to have increased security, hiring private security to stand guard at their mosques here in Orlando. It's not something they want to do but something they said is a practical necessity. At the same time, they are making sure, you know, they are part of the community here. And they are showing up at the blood banks, giving out donations. They're hurting as well and feel that this is a tragic, tragic day here in Orlando.

MARTIN: And Hansi, you've been there throughout the day. In fact, you've been reporting for hours now. We have about a minute and a half left. Will you just tell us some of your other reflections from what you've seen throughout the day as you traveled around the city?

WANG: Sure. Well, it's really - just talking to some of the workers here at the blood bank, they said that they've never seen a response like this since really 9/11. And it's kind of a - hundreds of people, they said. At one point, they estimated 600, 700 people were just at one of their blood banks here. And this is just - I'm about 15 minutes away roughly from the sites of last night's shooting. And so it's just a response that they haven't seen. And all of a sudden, you know, they had a long line.

They also had a truck here serving shaved ice and free food. And these are all community groups and volunteers that just showed up on their own, called the blood bank, said I think you probably need something to feed and cool down all the people waiting to give blood. And they came and showed up and have been here for hours for all the day. I spoke to one man who went to church today for the first time in months since he said he was so affected. And he waited in line for seven hours if to spend about 10 minutes or so to donate blood. He has O-negative blood. And he felt - he said he was a pro-gun guy, but this is an incident that has made him reconsider the need for background checks, he said, for who can get - who can buy weapons.

MARTIN: That's NPR's Hansi Lo Wang. He's outside a blood bank in Orlando, Fla. That's just his latest stop today. He's been reporting for hours in Orlando, traveling around the city. Hansi, thank you so much for speaking with us.

WANG: Thank you, Michel. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.