In the wake of the June 20 Aurora theater shootings that killed 12 people, residents across the state are reaching out to help the 58 people who were …
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In the wake of the June 20 Aurora theater shootings that killed 12 people, residents across the state are reaching out to help the 58 people who were injured.
One of the most common ways to do this is to donate blood through the Bonfils Blood Center, which provided more than 300 pints of blood in the hours after the shootings to the five local Denver metro-area hospitals that were treating victims.
Dianna Hemphill, a Bonfils Blood Center spokeswoman, said the response from local communities was both overwhelming and phenomenal. In a 10-day period, July 20-30, 5,008 donors flocked to Bonfils Blood Center locations statewide to help replenish the blood bank’s supply.
“We had a huge outpouring of support from the community,” Hemphill said. “As Coloradans, people are always looking to help their neighbors. We saw the results of this kindness from the devastating fires, and we’re just so thankful that people turned to Bonfils.”
At the Bonfils Blood Center’s Denver West location, which received 508 donations during that time period, blood-donation appointments were fully booked through Aug. 8.
“We saw a lot of people just constantly coming in after the shootings,” Marcus Vigil, a supervisor at the Denver West center, said. “Many of them would say, ‘Hey, I saw on the news that you need my blood type, so can I donate?’ We even saw a lot of first-time donors, people who didn’t even know about donating but wanted to help out.”
Hemphill said only an estimated 4 percent of all eligible Coloradoans donate blood, which can be done up to six times a year. Donating blood platelets, which survive only up to five days outside the body, is particularly important.
“I think this tragedy opened peoples’ eyes a little bit to see that there are different ways you can give back,” Hemphill said. “I think that once people came in and see how easy the process is, it just really puts them at ease. Donating blood is an easy, safe and free way for people to give back to their community.”
Denver resident William Shearer, a 21-year-old Metropolitan State University student, has donated blood about five times a year for the past several years.
He said it is important for people to donate because there is a continual need for it.
“I have to look away whenever they put the needle in, but it’s really not as bad as it seems,” said as he was getting his blood drawn Aug. 1 at Bonfils’ Denver West center. “It’s just nice to be able to sit down, relax and know that you’re helping people.”
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