University and Red Cross collaborate for annual Blood Battle

Monday, November 14, 2016 - 5:08pm

The University of Michigan community and the Red Cross are collaborating to collect blood donations on campus as part of the 35th annual Blood Battle against Ohio State University.

For the annual Blood Battle, which began in 1982, the two rival schools — Michigan and OSU — aims to collect 2,500 units of blood. This is roughly equivalent to 2,500 pints. The institution with higher units of donated blood wins the battle.  

In the last two Blood Battles, the University lost to OSU. Last year, the final score was 2,241 pints for the University and 2,529 pints for OSU. Currently, the University has collected 1,466 blood units, 60 percent of the 2,500-unit goal. The battle ends on Nov. 23.

According to the American Red Cross, someone in the United States needs blood every two seconds, adding up to approximately 36,000 units of red blood cells needed every day. 38 percent of the U.S. population is eligible to donate blood, though just 5 percent of the eligible donors donate on a yearly basis.

LSA freshman Lauren Robisch, who was donating blood at a donation station today in the League, said her primary reason for donating blood is to help those in need.

“People don’t really realize the impact (donating blood) can make,” Robisch said. “I’m O negative, so I’m the universal blood type — I can make a difference in anybody’s life. And taking just a few minutes out of my day can save somebody, it means the world.”

Robisch added that she began to donate blood when she was 16 years old, which is the minimum age for blood donation, following in the footsteps of her mother.

LSA senior Laurel Fricker noted that since blood is made of three different parts — red blood cells, platelet and plasma — one unit of donated blood can potentially save three people. Fricker is the president of Blood Drives United, a student group that focuses on organizing blood drives on campus and educating the community about the benefits of blood donation.

Erin Burns, account manager at Ann Arbor’s Red Cross, said how well the University does at the Blood Battle in a particular year might be related to how the football team does in the same year, given the University and OSU's long history of football rivalry.

“I think football dictates a lot of the excitement that revolves around (the Blood Battle),” Burns said. “The rivalry between the two schools does stem from football. Three years ago, when we did win, the football team was doing well, so people still thought there was chance of winning.”

Both Fricker and Burns were hopeful that since the University football team is having a successful season so far compared to previous years, it would be reflected in the number of blood units collected for this year’s Blood Battle.

“The last two years we didn’t exactly have (the excitement),” Burns said. “This year I think we are seeing a little bit more of the renewed excitement.”

Fricker added that a tweet from Michigan football coach Jim Harbaugh about the Blood Battle had helped the advertising for donations.

BDU has also tried many different advertising methods, such as chalking, banners, quarter cards and tabling. E. Royster Harper, vice president for student life, also raised awareness about the event in an email to the University community. In addition, BDU is also rewarding the donors to encourage the community to donate blood. This year, all donors will get a Red Cross T-shirt and restaurant coupons like a buy-one-get-one free Chipotle coupon, as well as entering to win raffle prizes.