Three life-saving donation challenges concluded last weekend with victories for Wolverines and Buckeyes alike. The challenges included encouraging students to donate blood and sign up to be organ and bone marrow donors as well.

This year, Ohio State University won the Blood Battle, a 33-year-old tradition in which each school encourages students to donate blood in the weeks leading up to their contentious football showdown. Ohio State collected 2,414 pints of blood, while the University collected 2,298, according to a University press release.

“It allows students a convenient place to donate, and, by playing off the athletic rivalry, the Blood Battle gives students incentive to donate,” said LSA senior Sam Rea, an executive officer of Blood Drives United.

The University has won the Blood Battle each year since 2008, except for this year and 2012.

“Although we didn’t win the competition, it was incredibly close,” Rea said. “The goal of the competition is to save the most lives possible. It was still a very large success because of the students, faculty and community members who took the time to volunteer and donate.”

Blood Drives United, the American Red Cross Southeastern Michigan Blood Services and the University’s Washtenaw County American Red Cross Club supported Blood Battle at the University this year. They encouraged donations by ensuring convenient donation locations and short wait times, as well as by distributing T-shirts and gift cards to local restaurants.

More than 30 drives occurred from Nov. 4 to Nov. 27.

According to Rea, Blood Drives United said a single blood donation can save up to three lives. To date, Blood Battle donations have saved as many as 630,000 lives. Every two seconds, a patient in the United States needs a blood transfusion.

The schools’ duel extended to encouraging registrations to become an organ donor or a bone marrow donor. The University won both of these competitions.

In Michigan, 85,803 joined the organ donor list through the Wolverine vs. Buckeye Challenge for Life, compared to 41,946 in Ohio.

Jennifer Tislerics, special events and partnerships coordinator at Gift of Life Michigan, an organ donor-focused nonprofit, said every state resident who signs up is counted in the challenge. This year marks the fifth consecutive time the University has won the challenge, which was established in 2006.

“We decided it would be a good use of this rivalry to help save lives,” Tislerics said.

Wolverines For Life — a student group that partners with Gift of Life Michigan, the University of Michigan Health System, the Michigan Eye-Bank and others — promoted the challenges.

Organ donation efforts often extend beyond campus. For example, Tislerics said the University library system began to host donor registration days at its buildings. This initiative later spread to other college and public libraries throughout the state.

“We love working with U of M,” Tislerics said. “Between the health system, student groups and Athletic Department, everyone has been so supportive of saving lives.”

While 79 people receive organ transplants every day, 150 are added daily to the waiting list in need of kidneys, hearts, lungs and other vital organs. Hundreds of these surgeries are performed at UMHS each year.

The third challenge was the Marrow Matchup, which enlisted 130 new bone marrow donors through the University and 58 through Ohio State. Marrow donations ensure those afflicted with leukemia, lymphoma and other blood diseases can find a cure. More than 10,000 patients seek a bone marrow match each year.

Few similar competitions exist nationwide. Tislerics said the Michigan-Ohio State competition is the sole inter-state organ donor competition in the country.

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