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Louisvillians lined up to donate blood Saturday, hoping to help after the mass shooting

Pink and blue buses park in front of Lynn Family Stadium for a blood drive.
Sylvia Goodman
LPM News
Two long buses from the Kentucky Blood Center parked in front of the Lynn Family Stadium Saturday.

After a mass shooting Monday, the victims of which required 170 units of blood, officials called on Louisvillians hoping to make a difference to donate blood.

Two long buses, painted bright blue and purple, parked in front of the Lynn Family Stadium Saturday. People lined up in front, shirt sleeves rolled up with the sun glaring down. They were there to give blood, a donation that Mayor Craig Greenberg and hospital officials have asked of Louisvillians after the mass shooting Monday.

“There are so many people who want to do something, who have offered to help, who see this nightmare unfold and want to make it better somehow. We love and appreciate that so much,” Greenberg said the day after the shooting. “For those of you who are looking to take action right now, to show your support for the first responders who are trying to save lives, and for the victims of gun violence, one great way to do that is to donate blood.”

The Kentucky Blood Center organized Saturday’s blood drive in partnership with Louisville City FC and Racing Louisville FC in honor of the victims of the mass shooting at an Old National Bank in downtown Louisville. Participants also get free tickets to the soccer game Saturday night between Louisville City and San Antonio FCs.

The nine people taken to the hospital after the shooting required 170 units of blood. Because most people can only donate one or two units of blood at a time, it takes a huge lift to get hospitals and patients the blood they need.

“So many people wanted to do something. And this was a way for people to chip in,” said Brooke Nevius, a donor-recruitment specialist with the Kentucky Blood Center. “But it's not only important to donate blood when there's a tragedy, but also on a regular basis. Because we can't make it. It must come from another human.”

Gun violence is an ongoing issue in Louisville, Greenberg has said. And in the early morning of the blood drive, three more people were shot, two of whom died, in the Old Louisville neighborhood. And multiple other shootings have occurred in the city since the mass shooting Monday.

“I was a regular donor. I donate blood regularly [but then] I didn't donate blood for 16 years,” Nevius said. “I saw this job opening and I said, ‘What is wrong with me? Why did I stop doing that?’ And that happens to so many people. And yet, during that time, how many people actually needed blood and couldn't get it?”

Several of the participants at the blood drive are regular donors. But others were inspired to donate for the first time, like Ilana Bobroff, 51. Bobroff moved to Louisville in March to be near her son and because she loved the community and atmosphere in the city.

“[I’m] just absolutely devastated by what happened. Unfortunately, it's happening everywhere,” Bobroff said. “But it's the little bit that I can do my part and hopefully make a difference.”

Bobroff said she was encouraged to see all the people who showed up for the blood drive, who took time out of their Saturdays to help out. She said she would definitely consider giving blood again.

According to Nevius, about 60 people signed up in advance to give blood, but multiple people also came for walk-in donations.

“But we don't need your money,” Nevius said with a smile. “We need your time and your blood. We need you to roll up your sleeve and to donate.”

Inside the vans, people filled in their medical information on tables in the small waiting area. On four beds in the back, a rotating cast of donors squeezed heart-shaped stress balls as blood pumped into the waiting donations bags.

Lance Wright, 40, and his daughter Lucy, 16, stood in front of the truck, waiting for their turn to give blood. Neither had given blood before, but they too were inspired to donate for the first time Saturday. Lucy said her dad had to sign a parental consent form, because she was still a little below the recommended age. She said she was a bit anxious since it was her first time, but she knew what she was signing up for.

“With the recent events here in the city, we just felt compelled,” Lance said. “I saw an article come through on the news, and it just kind of gave us the idea to come in and help with the cause.”

For those who are looking to donate blood in the coming weeks, you can make an appointment at redcrossblood.org/give or my.kybloodcenter.org/donor.

Sylvia is the Capitol reporter for Kentucky Public Radio, a collaboration including Louisville Public Media, WEKU-Lexington, WKU Public Radio and WKMS-Murray. Email her at sgoodman@lpm.org.

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