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Austin Reaches Out to West, TX: 'We're All Connected as Americans'

Marissa Barnett, KUT News

Central Texans have been turning out all day to donate blood to help the survivors in West.

The waiting room of Austin’s Blood and Tissue Center of Central Texas is busier than usual today with people turning out to donate blood for victims of the fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas, 30 miles outside of Waco.

By 11 a.m., more than 90 donors had shown up at the center, according to Blood and Tissue Center of Central Texas spokesperson Cynthia Rowe. That's nearly four times more donors than on a typical morning.

The Blood and Tissue Center has already delivered 220 units of blood to the Carter Blood Care satellite site in Waco. Most of those units are type O-negative, which is the universal blood type.

"When there's an accident or tragedy, there's not enough time to type the blood and so we will get orders for O-negative blood type," she said.

As emergency crews search for survivors and victims of last night’s explosion in West, people across Texas say they feel called to help.

Jenna Kitley says that while she is a regular donor, hearing of last night’s tragedy in West reminded her to come in.

"You know, there are some things that you can do with financial contributions, by helping the Red Cross or donating blankets and clothing. But there are some things you can't buy, like blood," she said.

Monday’s bombing during the Boston Marathon, which claimed three people, is also on the minds of donors today.

For 20 years, Russell Garcia has stopped in West for kolaches during his trips to Dallas. Sitting in the waiting room today, he says he’s thinking of those in West, Boston and troops overseas.

"I think we all feel connected today as Americans and as humans," Garcia said.

The Blood and Tissue Center of Central Texas have donation centers in Austin and Round Rock. They encourage donors, particularly with O-negative blood to visit in the next two weeks, as more details are learned about the blood needs in West.

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