WKU, MTSU battle in blood donation

WKU students donate blood in the Preston Center on Tuesday as part of the WKU vs. MTSU Blood Drive Competition by the American Red Cross. Jeff Brown/HERALD

Jessica Voorhees

While the blood drive on WKU’s campus serves as a chance to compete against rival Middle Tennessee State University, for Ronda Birchell, it’s personal. 

Birchell, an American Red Cross donor recruitment representative, said just one unit of blood saves three lives. 

 “My son died at 15 when the hospital ran out of blood platelets,” Birchell said.

She said the need for blood donations is strong.

“We have so few donors,” Birchell said. “There are more patients who need blood than donors.”

The fourth blood drive competition between WKU and MTSU took place at the Preston Center Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

Members of the WKU community came out to donate blood to the American Red Cross. 

The winning school will be announced at halftime of the WKU vs. MTSU football game Sept. 13 and will be presented with a blood battle trophy. 

In 2010 and 2011, MTSU won the competition. WKU is the reigning champion, having won the competition in 2012. The competition was not held in 2013, due to the teams not competing in football.

After the first two days of the competition, WKU was in the lead with 263 donors, while MTSU had 228.

Andrew Rash, coordinator for Student Activities, said about 650 people participated in 2012. 

Rash didn’t have an estimate on student outcome for this year. 

“We certainly want to beat the number we did two years ago,” he said.

Robert Wagner, Red Cross district manager, said he expected 1,300 combined participants from the two schools during the three-day contest. 

Wagner said student donations make up a major portion of blood contributions to the Red Cross.

“Forty percent of donations come from high school and college students,” Wagner said.

Campbellsville sophomore Valerie Noriega donated blood to the competition for the second time after reading about the competition on WKU’s website. 

“I’ve done it before and I like helping people out,” she said. 

Wagner encouraged students to donate even after the competition is over.

“All blood types are greatly appreciated,” he said. 

Fulton graduate student Danetra Hodge said she’s been donating for a long time.

“My family never really taught me about charity work, but I started this a long time ago as a way to donate to charity without donating money,” she said. “Then I used it as a kind of stepping stone to get involved in other charity work.”