Rackham student Nathan Mueting sat munching on graham crackers and sipping orange juice in a School of Education lounge on Friday morning. It was a well-earned snack for the blood drawn from his arm.
Mueting was donating blood as part of the 30th annual Blood Battle, a blood donation competition between the University of Michigan and The Ohio State University. As part of the competition, there will be 36 blood drives held across campus until Nov. 18 and this year’s goal is to collect 2,550 pints of blood from campus community members.
The University has beat OSU in the Blood Battle more often than it has on the football field with 17 wins in the past 30 years. Last year, Michigan beat OSU with a total of 2,615 pints of blood over OSU’s 2,515. Carrie Burgess, LSA senior and Blood Battle co-chair, said while there is an emphasis on donating more pints than OSU, there are other goals to the Blood Battle.
“Our main goal is to get as many people involved as possible,” she said. “We save tens of thousands of lives each year.”
In its 30-year history, the Blood Battle has undergone significant changes, Burgess said. The event began in 1982 with eight, small drives and has grown rapidly since then.
“We expand every year,” Burgess said. “Each year, we’re looking at getting new locations on campus.”
Mark Huizenga, the Blood Services coordinator at the Washtenaw County chapter of the American Red Cross, said students can make a huge difference in saving lives.
“It’s a really wonderful competition,” Huizenga said. “We look forward to it every year.”
Huizenga added that the goals for the Blood Battle are higher than average blood drives. In one Red Cross-sponsored drive, the goal is typically 25 to 30 pints. During the Blood Battle, many of the individual drives bring in 200 pints or more.
While the Blood Battle is the biggest partnership with the Washtenaw County American Red Cross, Huizenga said the “partnership lasts all year” since students continue to donate blood outside of the competition.
Burgess acknowledged student’s anxiety about giving blood as an obstacle to receiving more donors, but she urged students not to be nervous.
“It’s really not as bad as you think,” she said. “Think of the end result. Ultimately, that should be enough to overcome that initial state of fear.”
For Mueting, he had no concern about donating blood, and he feels all eligible students should participate. He added that taking advantage of the rivalry with OSU encourages students to donate.
“I think it’s a really good idea (to donate) …” he said. “It helps people that need it because you never know when you might need it too.”
Huizenga encouraged potential donors to hydrate properly the day they give blood, avoid caffeinated drinks and eat healthy, iron-rich foods to “help the experience go smoother.”
“It only takes an hour, but you can help someone for the rest of their life,” Huizenga said.