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Hurdles still exist for gay men trying to donate blood to Orlando victims

HOUSTON – The tragic shooting in Orlando happened at a gay nightclub, which has the LGBT community in an uproar to help the victims.

Houston resident Blake Lynch and his husband moved to Houston from Orlando. One of the simplest ways for them to send support to the heart of the tragedy is to donate blood, but that is forbidden for them.

"Not an option for me," Lynch said. "I would love to go out and donate blood for victims that are at Orlando Regional Medical Center, but due to FDA policy that the bans gay and bisexual men from donating blood for 12 months, I can't."

The FDA recently lifted a lifetime ban prohibiting gay and bisexual men from ever donating blood, instead trading it for a year of abstinence after sex with the same gender.

"I started banned4life back in 2013 when it was a lifetime ban," Lynch said. "We got a change in the policy. It's not a lifetime ban anymore, it's a year deferral. Still, men like myself, healthy gay men are still banned."

Now he encourages other people to be as inspired as he is and donate blood on behalf of the LGBT community and for victims of tragedy.

Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center said they have been asked for any support we can provide after this tragedy.

"Our first priority is the needs of our local hospitals. Once those needs are met, we may be able to provide support to other areas as needed. Anyone wanting to help can donate to increase the blood supply so we can help those in need of donations locally first, then extend our support to Florida if requested. we appreciate the outpouring of support from local donors. We appreciate the outpouring of support from local donors. For more on when and where you can donate, visit giveblood.org or call 1(888) GVBLOOD.”"

KPRC Channel 2 is teaming up with the Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center for the station's 24th annual Summer Blood Drive. 

Each participant has the potential to save up to three local lives with their blood donation.

The 2016 Summer Blood Drive kicks off in front of KPRC 2 Studios on Thursday from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Eligible blood donors at the KPRC 2 event who meet the Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center's donation criteria will receive two single-day admission passes to Typhoon Texas water park in Katy, while supplies last. All donors will also receive a commemorative blood drive T-shirt.

The KPRC 2 Summer Blood Drive will then continue at several locations around the Houston area through June 20. Blood donors at those events will receive a commemorative blood drive T-shirt.

Click here for locations and times.