Donors spar in blood battle

BY KEVIN KIM
For the Daily
Published January 27, 2005

The rivalries that play themselves out on the basketball court are taking another form this time of year — and this time success is measured not in points, but pints. From today through Feb. 11, the University will be engaged in a blood drive competition with Michigan State University. The event, which is co-sponsored by the American Red Cross, pits the two schools against each other each year. The university that collects the most pints of blood wins.The blood battle is being held to assist the Red Cross with the difficult task of meeting hospitals’ need for blood. According to the Red Cross website, blood is needed every three seconds. One out of three people needs donated blood in his lifetime. One out of 10 hospital patients needs a transfusion.Blood is always needed for treatment of accident victims, cancer patients, hemophiliacs and surgery patients. In order to be prepared for everyday patients’ needs and for unexpected disasters, a seven-day inventory of blood is necessary, according to the Red Cross. But on most days during the fall, the inventory reserve in the region was measured in hours, not days. In the past, according to the Red Cross, the region has obtained additional blood from other parts of the country. These sources, however, have declined because of national shortages.To help counteract the shortages, the community service organization Alpha Phi Omega is co-sponsoring the blood drive.APO has been heavily involved in the blood battle tradition for the past 10 years, said LSA junior Kathryn Beachnau, who is one of the co-chairs of APO’s blood battle committee. The tradition of the fall blood battle with Ohio State University began 23 years ago. The winter rivalry against MSU — which began four years ago — is a relatively new addition to the blood battles. Originally, the winter competition centered on the hockey season and the University’s hockey match against MSU. However, this year is a little different.“This is the first year that the blood battle has been organized to match the basketball season,” said Beachnau, who is a veteran of three winter blood battles herself. Beachnau added that having the blood battle during hockey season did not work very well because the dates were too difficult to match. “The goal for this winter drive is about 750 pints,” she said. “It’s about half the goal in the fall. We just expect less people to be walking around and running into the blood drive stations in the winter than in the fall.” Despite the lowered expectations, the blood battle has already gained a great deal of interest. Engineering freshman Joseph Lee said that he and his fraternity brothers in Lambda Phi Epsilon will be donating blood today. “I’m pretty excited about giving blood. I’ve never done it before, and I think it’s something everyone should try,” Lee said.In order to donate blood, a prospective donor must be at least 17 years old, weigh at least 110 pounds and not have donated blood in the last 56 days. Other aspects of each potential donor’s health history are discussed during the donation process prior to any actual collection of blood. Each donor also receives a brief examination during which temperature, pulse, blood pressure and blood cell count are measured.The blood drive will be held at various buildings on campus. Though walk-ins are welcome, students can register beforehand by visiting the Red Cross website, www.givelife.org, and following the directions on the site. The required sponsor code is “goblue.”