Count on the Middle Tennessee State University community to take the old exhortation to “Give it 110%!” to heart in the classroom, in athletic competitions and in community service — especially when they’re asked to save community lives.
MTSU students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends enthusiastically took that “goal” a few percentage points higher during this week’s annual “True Blue Blood Drive,” beating their three-day, 100-units-per-day target by 121% and donating 362 pints of blood for their neighbors across the state and region.
“Incredible!! Our patients owe you a debt of gratitude!!” wrote Gene Baker, senior account manager for donor resources at the American Red Cross’ Nashville offices, early Thursday, Nov. 4, in an email announcing the results of MTSU’s Nov. 1-3 community blood drive.
“That’s 121% of (our) goal, helping save 362 to 724 lives!!! In addition, and most importantly, (we had) 152 FIRST TIME DONORS!!”
The Red Cross says up to three patients can use the components from one unit of blood. An average 150- to 180-pound adult’s body contains about 10 units, or 1.5 gallons of blood; a newborn’s body has about one cup.
Blood drive committee chairman Ray Wiley, MTSU Campus Recreation associate director and a longtime Red Cross volunteer and blood donor said this year’s effort, which once again drew donors and volunteers from across Middle Tennessee, is a success because of teamwork — and the True Blue MTSU spirit.
“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 said. “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.
“You see these these kids coming out who have never given before, getting over their fears and stepping up and being willing to give up their time, their energy, their blood — it’s such an amazing event.”
Antonio Dodson of Murfreesboro, a junior economics major and the philanthropic coordinator for MTSU’s Student Government Association, was among the students urging their peers to join the 2021 True Blue lifesaving effort.
“It’s more important than ever before for students to turn out at these local blood drives because of shortages of blood, especially as we tackle diseases like sickle cell disease,” Dodson said.
“We have some great minority communities here at MTSU, so it’s really important for student leaders and for students all over campus to encourage all our students, and especially those minority communities of students, to turn up to show up and give blood and save lives.”
Saving lives, saluting top donors
The Red Cross and the university also saluted four Rutherford County donors, all MTSU alumni, who’ve made a long tradition of helping save lives. Baker thanked Edwin Alexander, Edward Baker and Billy and Andrea Jones and recognized each with a special plaque Nov. 2 while other donors gave blood nearby in MTSU’s Student Health, Wellness and Recreation Center.
Alexander, a second-generation donor who began rolling up his sleeves at age 17 to help the Red Cross, has so far donated 494 units of blood and platelets. Baker, who’s also an MTSU football season ticket holder, has donated 410 lifesaving units.
Billy Jones, who began donating about 15 years ago during a family member’s illness, has given 404 units of blood and platelets. And Andrea Jones, a graduation analyst in MTSU’s College of Graduate Studies, has so far donated 101 units.
The annual True Blue Blood Drive, launched in 2010 by MTSU 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.
Between 2010 and 2019, MTSU and Western supporters together donated 9,800 total units of blood, or 1,225 gallons, helping as many as 29,400 patients.
MTSU supporters alone gave 5,318 pints of donated blood — nearly 665 gallons — between 2010 and 2020.
The 2021 MTSU drive has brought the university’s total to 5,680 units of blood, or 710 gallons, given by True Blue donors since 2010, saving up to 17,040 lives across the region.
In effect, over 12 years, MTSU donors have saved nearly everyone in Goodlettsville, Tennessee, whose current population is 17,789, according to figures from the state Department of Economic and Community Development.
“This big annual three-day event … is the biggest single operation in the county as far as blood drives,” Baker said, “and that’s really good because our presentation rates have dipped significantly since the pandemic began.
“That’s an incredible amount of blood, but it’s in the same spirit for 12 years now.”
For more information on donating blood anytime, visit https://redcrossblood.org.
— Gina E. Fann (email@example.com)