OneBlood spokesperson recalls surge in donations following Pulse Nightclub tragedy

In the hours following the Pulse Nightclub shooting, Central Floridians lined up at OneBlood on Michigan Avenue with a sense of purpose, amid a sense of helplessness in the aftermath of unspeakable tragedy.

"They did an extraordinary thing. We needed their help to replenish the blood supply," Susan Forbes, the Senior Vice President of Corporate Communications and Public Relations at OneBlood.

Some of the unsung heroes from the Pulse massacre were the blood donors that came here to OneBlood in the weeks prior to the terror attack. It was their blood that helped save the 58 injured in the nightclub.

"It was these people who came in a week before the tragedy not knowing this was ever going to happen. And they just simply came in and donated," Forbes said, "and because they did that, there was blood available for these patients when they were brought in, in the middle of the night."

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This story is told thoroughly in a documentary on Amazon Prime called "Lifeline: The Untold Story of Saving The Pulse Survivors," executive produced by Forbes.

It was a tough production no doubt because it also revealed that one of the 49 fatal victims at Pulse was a OneBlood team member: Rodolfo Ayala Ayala.

"All the people who worked with him had to keep working because the donations were coming in and we had to process them coming in. They’re crying and they’re working and they’re crying and they’re working. They pushed on, but it was heartbreaking."

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In just seven days after the Pulse massacre, 28,000 Floridians donated blood -- a remarkable surge that took only a week to distribute, given to patients in hundreds of hospitals throughout the Southeast United States.

Because blood is processed about as fast as it’s donated, Forbes has this message:

"Keep coming in each time you’re eligible because you did an extraordinary act five years ago, and that extraordinary act is just as needed today as it was then."

A life-saving act that only takes a few minutes. Perhaps there’s no better gift.

"It’s the best part of being an American. And we’re Orlando Strong."

Watch FOX 35 News for more coverage of the 5-year anniversary of the Pulse shooting.