Blood Collectors Week: Staying Until the Last Donor Donates

As news spread about the Orlando tragedy, OneBlood team members across our service area immediately responded to ensure blood was available when and where it was needed.  It was all hands on deck and remained that way for days following the tragedy.

 Almost instantly, a sea of blood donors began to form and OneBlood quickly found itself the focus of massive media coverage from around the globe.  We were intertwined in coverage of one of the worst tragedies in America, and our lifesaving mission became an avenue for people to help.

 Thousands of people came out to donate blood, and countless others including many businesses showed up on their own to bring food and water to donors and our team.  Some of our locations had between 500 and 700 donors wrapped around the building waiting to donate. 

 Our frontline team did a remarkable job under extremely difficult circumstances to ensure donors were taken care of and that every donation was maximized.  Collections ran late into the night at many of our locations.  Our Michigan Street donor center, which is just a few blocks away from The Pulse, drew the last donor close to 4:00am.  The last bloodmobile returned back to the blood center after 1:30am.

 The Biologics team was exceptionally busy processing and preparing the unprecedented amount of collections.  They worked around-the-clock and did an outstanding job under extremely difficult circumstances.

 Everyone worked tirelessly on the front lines and behind the scenes, and at times they worked with tears in their eyes as we learned one of our own team members, Rodolfo Ayala Ayala was among the victims.  As our team members coped with their grief, they stood strong and shared emotional and heartfelt words of their friend and colleague with the media and remarkably forged forward in his memory.

 The Orlando tragedy served as a grim reminder as to why having a ready blood supply is so vital for our communities. We are grateful for the blood donors who gave before the unthinkable act occurred, for they helped ensure blood was available when it was needed.  At the same time, we are equally as grateful to the tens of thousands of donors who lined the streets eager to donate in the days that followed.  More than 30% of the people who gave were first time donors.  We remain hopeful that they realize how important they are and will make blood donation a regular part of their life.

 Though the story has faded from the headlines, and a sense of normalcy has returned to our operations, we will never forget what happened on June 12, 2016 and the vital role the blood center played.  In the darkest of times our lifesaving mission brought hope. It became an outlet for people to help.  It became a focal point of a community standing united.


Tirzah Zielinski
Director of Marketing
OneBlood, Inc.
St. Petersburg, FL

Facebook Twitter Email

Leave a Reply