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MTSU’s lifesaving blood-drive rivalry with WKU ret...

MTSU’s lifesaving blood-drive rivalry with WKU returns for lucky 13th year

American Red Cross phlebotomist Holly Fish, left, checks Capt. Dakota Eldridge's blood pressure while he donates blood collection unit in November 2021 on the first day of MTSU's annual three-day

Middle Tennessee State University supporters have poured out their True Blue love and helped save as many as 17,000 lives with blood they’ve donated since 2010 in the university’s big three-day fall blood drive.

This custom T-shirt, designed by MTSU Leisure, Sport and Tourism Management Program graduate student Elizabeth Hatfield for MTSU Campus Recreation, is one of the gifts that donors at the Oct. 3-5 "Bleed Blue, Beat WKU" blood drive will receive for their help. MTSU and Western Kentucky University are renewing their blood-drive rivalry this fall after a two-year hiatus; the winner will be announced Oct. 15.
This custom T-shirt, designed by MTSU Leisure, Sport and Tourism Management Program graduate student Elizabeth Hatfield for MTSU Campus Recreation, is one of the gifts that donors at the Oct. 3-5 “Bleed Blue, Beat WKU” blood drive will receive for their help. MTSU and Western Kentucky University are renewing their blood-drive rivalry this fall after a two-year hiatus; the winner will be announced Oct. 15.

This fall, Monday-Wednesday, Oct. 3-5, the friendly rivalry with Western Kentucky University that launched a dozen years of True Blue Blood Drives returns for a lucky 13th year.

WKU is stepping back up to continue the lifesaving efforts that have stretched across two states, helping to save a total of nearly 29,400 neighbors between the universities.

MTSU donors can give blood 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Oct. 3-5 at the gymnasium of the Student Health, Wellness and Recreation Center at 1848 Blue Raider Drive. Appointments are still available here at the MTSU event page at https://redcrossblood.org.

Appointments also are easy to schedule with the American Red Cross blood app, available at https://rcblood.org/3jkCUDL, or by texting “BLOODAPP” to 90999. Directions to MTSU’s Recreation Center can be found at https://bit.ly/MTCampusRecCenterRoute.

Donors at MTSU will have free reserved parking outside the Recreation Center while they give blood. They’ll also receive a free custom MTSU blood-drive T-shirt, $25 in e-gift cards, four free tickets to the Blue Raiders’ Nov. 9 home football clash with FAU and a pizza meal as thanks for their lifesaving gift.

“We’re excited to have Western back in the mix this year,” says blood drive committee chairman Ray Wiley, MTSU Campus Recreation associate director and a longtime American Red Cross volunteer and blood donor. “The element of competition, both on and off the football field, makes it all so much more fun while we know we’re helping others!

Ray Wiley, associate director, Campus Recreation
Ray Wiley

“It’s an incredible opportunity for students, faculty, staff, the campus community, the community of Murfreesboro surrounding us, to all come together and support something that is so positive and life-changing,” Wiley adds. “This is one of the best ways we can do that, because we do it together. And the only way we can be successful is when everybody buys in, year after year.”

Between 2010 and 2019, the last year the universities competed in a blood drive, MTSU and Western supporters together donated 9,800 total units of blood, or 1,225 gallons, helping as many as 29,400 patients over the decade.

MTSU supporters alone gave 5,680 units of donated blood — 710 gallons — between 2010 and 2021, saving up to 17,040 lives across the region.

The Red Cross says up to three patients can use the components from one unit of blood. An average 150- to 180-pound adult has about 10 units, or 1.5 gallons of blood; a newborn’s body has about one cup.

American Red Cross phlebotomist Holly Fish, left, checks Capt. Dakota Eldridge's blood pressure while he donates blood collection unit in November 2021 on the first day of MTSU's annual three-day "True Blue Blood Drive" in the Student Health, Wellness and Recreation Center. Eldridge is an assistant professor in the Department of Military Science. MTSU and Western Kentucky University are renewing their blood-drive rivalry this fall after a two-year hiatus; the winner will be announced Oct. 15. (MTSU file photo by J. Intintoli)
American Red Cross phlebotomist Holly Fish, left, checks Capt. Dakota Eldridge’s blood pressure while he donates blood collection unit in November 2021 on the first day of MTSU’s annual three-day “True Blue Blood Drive” in the Student Health, Wellness and Recreation Center. Eldridge is an assistant professor in the Department of Military Science. MTSU and Western Kentucky University are renewing their blood-drive rivalry this fall after a two-year hiatus; the winner will be announced Oct. 15. (MTSU file photo by J. Intintoli)

Donors also needed to combat sickle cell disease

This year’s MTSU blood drive is also focusing on helping patients with sickle cell disease.

The Red Cross needs African American donors to provide blood for patients with the inherited and extremely painful disorder, which distorts and hardens red blood cells. Those cells lodge in blood vessels, creating conditions ripe for strokes and organ failures.

Red Cross button logo
Click the logo to make an appointment to donate Monday, April 4, at MTSU.

Most sickle cell patients are of African descent. Donor blood transfusions give them healthy red cells to unblock the vessels and carry oxygen to their bodies.

Black donors’ blood is often the best match for sickle cell patients because it’s less likely to cause immune reactions. The Red Cross has more information about the disease and how important lifesaving Black donors are at its website.

MTSU currently holds trophy; winner named Oct. 15

The annual MTSU blood drive, launched in 2010 by Director of Athletics and longtime blood donor Chris Massaro as a friendly competition with football rival Western Kentucky University, has continued through both conference bye years and the pandemic.

The competition also carries a challenge trophy, which is presented to the winner at each year’s MTSU-WKU game. This year’s blood-drive winner will be announced at the Saturday, Oct. 15, homecoming game against Western at Floyd Stadium.

MTSU, which currently holds the trophy after winning the last competition in 2019, has won the prize seven times since 2010. Western has won twice; there was no competition in 2013, when MTSU joined Conference USA, or in 2020 or 2021.

“The annual ‘Blood Battle’ between WKU and MTSU has become a wonderful historical feud that evokes strong school spirit and pride from fans on both sides,” said Clif Redish, regional donor services executive for the Red Cross Tennessee Region. “This is a great way for fans to truly show their school spirit while helping the American Red Cross save lives with blood donation.”

Ray Wiley, left, associate director of MTSU Campus Recreation and a longtime American Red Cross volunteer, joins MTSU Director of Athletics Chris Massaro to hoist the annual “blood battle” challenge trophy aloft Saturday, Nov. 30, at at the MTSU vs. Western Kentucky University football game in Bowling Green. Cheering behind them are members of the MTSU Band of Blue. MTSU won the annual blood drive contest for the third straight year and the seventh time since it began in 2010. (Photo submitted)
Ray Wiley, left, associate director of MTSU Campus Recreation and a longtime American Red Cross volunteer, joins MTSU Director of Athletics Chris Massaro to hoist the annual “blood battle” challenge trophy aloft in November 2019 at at the MTSU vs. Western Kentucky University football game in Bowling Green. Cheering behind them are members of the MTSU Band of Blue. MTSU has won the annual blood drive contest seven times since it began in 2010. MTSU and Western Kentucky University are renewing their blood-drive rivalry this fall after a two-year hiatus; the winner will be announced Oct. 15. (File photo submitted)

Organizers said MTSU donors can begin preparing for their appointments now by cutting back on caffeine, eating iron-rich foods and getting extra rest. The Red Cross has more blood donation tips at its website.

MTSU community donors can save more time on their “True Blue Blood Drive” donation day by completing the required health questionnaire online at the Red Cross’s “Rapid Pass.”

For more information on donating blood anytime, visit https://redcrossblood.org.

Need a little push? Don’t waste your perfectly good blood — watch the video below.

— Gina E. Fann (gina.fann@mtsu.edu)


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