Blood donation goals surpassed in annual drive

By Colleen McCoy

Not even a 300-pound linebacker can produce as much blood as UK students have donated.

UK surpassed its goal of 300 pints in the annual Battle of the Bluegrass blood drive between UK and the University of Louisville and has donated more than twice as much blood as U of L with a week left in the competition.

Jim Tinker, director of marketing and communications at the Kentucky Blood Center, said UK students are exceptionally strong donators.

“Students in particular know that they can make a difference in their community,” he said. “When school is out of session, the blood supply certainly reflects the students’ absence.”

According to the Kentucky Blood Center, college students provide about 25 percent of all blood donations.

“It’s a great cause and they turn one bag into three lives saved,” said Misty Puckett, an undecided freshman. “It’s one of my favorite hobbies, saving lives.”

Not only are students enjoying the feeling of pride that comes with donations, but they are also drawn to other incentives of the contest.

Along with their contribution for UK in the competition, donors are entered in a drawing for a 42-inch plasma television and two tickets to the upcoming U of L football game.

“I figure my blood helps people that need it, plus I get a free T-shirt,” said Dustin Biggerstaff, an exercise science senior.

Tinker said many students give blood because of the positive feeling they get after their donation.

“No matter how your day went, after you donated you can walk around tall and know that you did something really great,” he said.

Sponsored by the Kentucky Blood Center, the contest began Aug. 13 and will continue through next week. The blood drive started eight years ago in Louisville through the Red Cross but has expanded to Lexington with sponsorship from the UK Alumni Association.

The blood donated in Battle of the Bluegrass helps supply 67 hospitals in central and eastern Kentucky. These hospitals use over 200 pints of blood in transfusions every day, according to the blood center.

“There is a constant, never ending appetite for blood,” Tinker said. “The donors are really the ones who are in charge, because they save the lives.”

Although 37 percent of Kentucky’s population is eligible to donate blood, only 5 percent actually do.

Eligible students include those who are at least 17 years old, at least 110 pounds and in good health. Donations must be separated by a period of 56 days, or if the donor has been exposed to malaria-ridden areas outside of the United States, a 12-month waiting period is required. Taking antibiotics prevents someone from donating, as well. Prior to giving blood, students have a mini health screening to assure their eligibility.

Although the blood center’s goal for donations was surpassed, it is continuing to encourage UK students to donate.

“I don’t think UK fans would tell the football players to stop tackling when they are up at half time, but right now UK is clobbering U of L,” Tinker said. “I would call it a bloodbath.”