Potential blood donors have come forward in droves, after a mass shooting — the worst in US history — at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, which has left at least 50 people dead and another 53 injured.
Blood centres, some of which saw hundreds of people queue to donate, said they had reached their capacity and urged potential donors to make appointments and return in the coming days to replenish supplies.
“I’ve been here 13 years and never seen a response like this,” OneBlood spokesman Pat Michaels told the Orlando Sentinel.
“The sentiment is understood and appreciated, but it’s a little too much, too soon.”
But Mr Michaels said the supply would need to be replenished and more donations would be needed over the coming days.
Orlando officials and blood centres put out a call to the public early on Sunday morning, and the response was immediate.
Donation centres were flooded with potential donors and many took to social media to encourage others to donate and share photos of the queues — many of them reaching out the door and down the street.
Among those waiting to donate was Becky Orero, who worked at the nightclub, Pulse, for five years.
“We have to be here for our community. I made sure that I came down here so our friends and family can make it out OK,” she told the Orlando Sentinel.
Anger sexually active gay men are barred from donating
Some expressed frustration that sexually active gay men remain barred from donating blood — and thereby being denied one tangible way of giving back to their community in the wake of the tragedy that occurred at a gay nightclub.
In 2012, a lifetime ban on accepting blood donations from gay men was lifted by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and replaced with new regulations stipulating men must wait one year after sexual contact with another man to donate blood.
Following reports the rules had been temporarily bent to allow all gay men to donate blood, OneBlood issued a statement saying all FDA guidelines remained in effect.
“There are false reports circulating that FDA rules were being lifted. Not true,” OneBlood tweeted.
The chaotic events of the shooting unfolded over a three-hour period, beginning at about 2:00am (local time) when shots rang out amid the throbbing music near closing time.
Terrified survivors — who moments before were laughing and dancing with friends — described how the gunman raked the club with bullets, prompting a police SWAT team to storm the venue.
The attack coincides with gay pride month in the United States, with festive marches and events being held all over the country including in Orlando last week.
The shooter was identified as Omar Mateen, a man that a senior FBI official said might have had leanings towards Islamic State militants, however the suspect’s father told NBC news his son may have been motivated by homophobia and not by his Muslim faith.
This post originally appeared on ABC News.
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*Feature image via Getty.