When tragedies happen in other parts of the country, our hearts go out to those affected, whether it's a flood, storms, earthquake, or, in the most recent case, a mass shooting. Thoughts and prayers, some believe, go a long way and are, I am certain, appreciated by the injured. I am here to ask you to do more.

Ask any doctor in an emergency room which he would rather have on hand when a crisis like the Las Vegas shooting happens, prayers or a supply of blood. I am almost 100% certain that most will say "both". Those who do not say "both" would more than likely say "blood". Without the blood, many of the lives cannot be saved. This is just a fact that we can't overlook.

So, you might ask "What is better than praying?" Well, I'll tell you: praying AND donating blood.  "But wait," you might say, "the victims are in Las Vegas, 1600 miles away from us". Yes, they are a good distance away, but one needs to understand how the blood supply networks operate to realize how YOUR donation will help.

To meet an immediate need, blood is pulled from surrounding blood providers (blood banks, as we say) when there is not enough locally. Now that the surrounding blood centers have shared their supply, their shelves are running low, so THEY have to reach out to their surrounding providers to meet their need, and so on and so forth. It's a ripple effect that can, in fact, affect the blood supply here in Acadiana.

According to Mitzi Breaux at United Blood Services in Lafayette, they are ready to supply blood to the victims of Las Vegas if the need arises.

United Blood Services stands ready to send blood to Las Vegas if needed. As part of the Blood Systems Blood Services division, United Blood Services is included in a multi-state system of blood centers. This network works in tandem, moving lifesaving donations throughout the system to help ensure blood is available when and where it’s needed most.

Blood has a shelf life, so it is important that donations are given on an ongoing basis. It can take 24 to 36 hours to collect, test, process and distribute blood where it’s needed.

This incident is another unfortunate reminder of why having an adequate blood supply on hand at all times is so important. The blood that was donated the week prior to the shooting last week saved dozens of lives that night.  We never know when or where a tragedy will strike, so donate blood on a regular basis, at least three times a year, to ensure blood is always available.

In short, your local donation helps victims of tragedies all over the country. So bring your friends, your family, your church family, and your rosary to the blood center and donate blood. Call (337) 235-5433 to set up an appointment, or just walk in to the center on Bertrand Drive. While you donate,  pray for the victims, for our leaders, and for our country. Amen.