One of the biggest ways Houstonians have helped victims of this week's disasters in Boston and West is through blood donations.  The Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center sent several units of platelets to a Boston Hospital after Monday's bombings there, and was also able to answer the call from the West explosion two days later.  "We fortunately were able to fulfill a request we got from the Austin blood bank for some platelets for hospitals there that are treating patients from West," says Cortney Martin with the Blood Center.  She credits the loyal donors for the center's ability to respond so quickly.  "Thanks to those people who come in on a regular basis and just make it a habit of donating every quarter, we had a good supply going into this."

The blood center has 16 neighborhood donation sites and all are expected to be buzzing the next couple of days as people turn out to help.  "Some donors may want to hold off until next week or so when the lines have gone down a little bit, but the need is still there," says Martin.  The blood center needs to collect about 1,000 units each day just to meet basic patient needs at hospitals and clinics across its 26-county home region.  In addition, Martin explains that it takes about 24 hours to process blood donations, so most of the blood initially sent to respond to major events like this week was donated before the disasters took place.

The true generosity of the Houston-area community was on display in recent days, as the blood center had enough supplies to respond to two major incidents in different parts of the country.  Martin tells KTRH weeks like this can provide an important lesson.  "You can't predict these things, that's why it's very important to keep coming in and giving even when there isn't a tragedy in the news," she says.  "Because you never know when something might happen, and those units that were given the day before will be what saves lives."  More info is available through the blood center's website,

Find out where you can donate blood here.

Find out how to become a regular blood donor here.