Citizens from around Puget Sound have filled local blood donations centers in the wake of the duck boat crash, causing hour-long waits and a doubling of newly registered donors at the Bellevue location of Bloodworks Northwest.
“It’s been very busy. We’ll usually see a bump when something catastrophic happens, but not to this extent,” said Kristina Stauffer, manager of the Bellevue location of Bloodworks Northwest.
Since the accident in which a Ride the Ducks boat and bus collided on the Aurora Bridge in Seattle on Sept. 24, killing five people and injuring dozens of others, people wanting to donate blood have filled local centers.
The organization has seen an overwhelming response that has jammed up phone lines and online scheduling systems, said spokesman David Larsen. Several hundreds of people showed up at some of Bloodworks Northwest’s 12 locations the day of the accident, and continued to do so through the end of the week.
At the organization’s Bellevue location, people were still waiting over an hour to donate blood the next day. The location registered 104 new donors on Sept. 24 – double their general daily numbers – and had registered more than 60 people by midday on Sept. 25.
“I’ve been here for over an hour… I’ve never had to wait this long before,” said Rhonda Lawrence, who said she came in to donate because of the accident.
To accommodate the response, the office had to double their seating for waiting donors, and the organization has been encouraging people to try scheduling appointments several days out.
While overwhelming, the response has been welcome as Bloodworks Northwest replenishes their supply.
Immediately following the crash, Bloodworks Northwest issued an emergency call for blood donors. The organization supplies blood to the eight different hospitals that the victims were taken to, and urgent received orders for more than 100 units of blood within a short window of time immediately after the crash, said Larsen.
In comparison, the organization sends out 4,000 units to 90 hospitals across the Northwest daily.
“It was critical that the blood was already there to respond to this tragedy. Fortunately, we have a pretty good blood donor base, but we need to replenish,” said Larsen.
Both first-time donors and regulars filled the Bellevue Bloodworks Northwest location, including Riko Chang, whose heart went out to the victims.
“I wanted to help,” she said. “I kept thinking ‘what is they were my kids, there’s got to be something I can do.’”