First-time blood donors increase after Orlando tragedy

What's Going Around week of June 20th

JACKSONVILLE, Fla.

People all across the country stood in line for hours this past week to show their love and support for the victims of the Orlando nightclub massacre. 

OneBlood reports over 28,000 units of blood have been collected since last week. That's more than triple the amount that is usually received. In fact, 40% of the donations came from first-time donors. So if you still want to help- it's not too late. Here is what you need to know before, during and after your donation.

The types of blood that are needed the most right now are O-positive, O-negative, and AB plasma.

The night before your donation, get a good night’s rest, drink plenty of water and despite what you may have heard- you don't need to fast.

If you have something that has a little bit of protein in it and some kind of hydration, Dr. Vandana Bhide with Mayo Clinic says it's the best thing that you can have.

"Avoid things like high sugar because your sugar will go up and down and then you'll be light headed and dizzy," said Dr. Bhide. Eat foods rich in iron, that includes, red meat, fish, spinach or beans.

If you've traveled recently, certain destinations like Mexico and Puerto Rico could prevent you from donating.

"So right now of course we're concerned about Zika, so anyone that's been to a Zika endemic area in the last month should avoid donating blood," said Dr. Bhide.

The CDC website has a map of Zika endemic areas you can look up before you head out to a blood donation center.  Other things to consider include if you have a fever or an active infection. "Even something as simple as a cold if they actually are sick right now. Or if somebody is on antibiotics they should wait, " said Dr. Bhide.

Wait until your symptoms are completely gone. If you've traveled to a Zika endemic area, wait a month. Speaking of waiting, plan to spend a couple hours once you're at a blood mobile. It does take time to safely withdraw blood so you don't get dizzy.

You also won't be able to donate if you have low blood count, anemia or weigh less than 110 pounds.

During your donation, the American Red Cross recommends ​taking the time to relax, listen to music, or read. If the thought of giving blood makes you a bit squeamish, Dr. Bhide says there's no need to fear. "You don't have to look, and it's honestly just a tiny stick and the cast majority of people do just fine."

After you're done, make sure you hydrate and avoid alcohol over the next 24 hours.

One donation can save up to 3 lives. To give you an of how quickly that a supply of blood can be depleted, one patient from the shooting used up to 200 units of blood in 24 hours, according to OneBlood.

OneBlood says there is always a need for donations and its important that donors are making an appointment to return. For more on where you can donate, visit: https://www.oneblood.org/