Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Thousands Turn out to Give Blood

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Thousands Turn out to Give Blood

Article excerpt

Byline: Matt Galnor, Times-Union staff writer

Jacksonville resident Jesus Orta tried to relax in the reclined chair, straightening his right arm as he prepared to donate a pint of blood at the Florida Georgia Blood Alliance branch on Beach Boulevard yesterday.

The 58-year-old man, a New York City resident for 42 years who walked through the now-crumbled World Trade Center less than two months ago, pulled his arm back to wipe tears from his eyes.

"We need to strike back," Orta said.

Orta and thousands of Jacksonville residents, all armed with stories and opinions on Tuesday's attacks, did what they could to help the cause by flooding blood banks to aid those injured.

Local blood needs, typically 300 units a day, will be met first, said Pamela Wilson, spokeswoman for the Florida Georgia Blood Alliance. The alliance, which collected about 1,000 units of blood Tuesday and well over 1,000 units yesterday, sent 161 pints of blood off to New York on Tuesday. Any excess blood will be shipped there and to Washington, Wilson said.

Blood must be tested and its final destination will depend on where it's needed.

By early yesterday afternoon, blood alliance officials were asking people to come back either today or tomorrow , saying staff would be busy helping those already in line until doors were scheduled to close at 8 p.m.

Local leaders with the Florida Georgia Blood Alliance and American Red Cross -- swamped with phone calls and donors in the past two days -- are both hopeful and confident the giving spirit will continue.

"If you give blood today or give blood over the next coming weeks, the important thing is giving blood," said Christian Smith, spokeswoman for the Jacksonville chapter of the American Red Cross.

Smith said the response from the public has been overwhelming. The agency collected 378 units of blood at four locations in Georgia on Tuesday, she said.

Workers taking blood have felt the impact, she said.

"They're tired but pumped," she said. "It's only been two days but the emotional impact is hard."

At blood drives today and tomorrow, plans are being made to provide seats for the about two dozen workers who have already worked long days. …

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