Blood drive to honor Steve Scalise held at La. State Capitol

La. State Capitol (Source: WAFB)
La. State Capitol (Source: WAFB)

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A blood drive to honor wounded Congressman Steve Scalise was held at the Louisiana State Capitol Friday.

From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., legislators partnered with LifeShare Blood Center to host the event, on the last day of the special session.

Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle donated blood in the name of Congressman Steve Scalise, who served in both the Louisiana House and Senate and currently sits as one of the top Republicans in Congress.

"We thought this would be a great way to support him at the Capitol since the congressman served with a lot of the current members. This is also a great way to support the local community," said Rep. Walt Leger.

Two LifeShare mobile buses were parked at the state Capitol for people to donate.

"LifeShare would like to send our thoughts and prayers to the family of Steve Scalise. We appreciate those generous donors who donated beforehand so that the blood was there when he needed it. We want to do the same for our community," said Stephanie Duplessis, manager of the LifeShare Blood Center in Baton Rouge.

Many legislators say learning that former Louisiana lawmaker Scalise had been shot came as a shock. "Losing blood on baseball field and then went through multiple surgeries, some of which were to stop internal bleeding," said Governor John Bel Edwards.

Democrat Walt Leger, Speaker Pro-Tem for the House of Representatives, says he started making calls last night to make this blood drive happen. "People gave in Virginia and the D.C. area supplied what he needed. That, in turn, gives us an opportunity to step up and provide the supply for someone else in his name," said Leger.

This call for donations comes at a time when the blood supply is low in the Baton Rouge area. "Thirty-five thousand donations are needed each year and 100 units are needed each day just to meet demand," said a representative with Our Lady of the Lake.

"There's never a bad time to give blood and we don't have too much of it at any time through the year. If we can take advantage of it while it's elevated in people's consciousness, I think it's the right thing to do," said Edwards.

Rhonda Bridevaux, who has O-negative blood, has been donating since she was in her teens. "You never know when you're gonna' have a blood shortage. You never know when there's gonna' be a need, so I firmly believe in donating on a regular basis," she said.

Bridevaux says it's moments of crisis like this when we should forget about worldly issues and focus on unity. "That's one of the things we need to focus more on is coming together as a community and coming together as one," she said.

"It kind of puts things in perspective, the partisan rhetoric has its place, but obviously, the political discourse needs to be well within the boundaries of what's civil and sometimes it's not, but when something like this happens, we pull together as Americans, as Louisianans, and we try to take care of our own," said Edwards.

To make a blood donation, click here.

Copyright 2017 WAFB. All rights reserved.