mtsu wku blood battle

Will you be the one whose True Blue blood donation Nov. 18-20 at MTSU can help save three neighbors’ lives?

MTSU is celebrating nearly a decade of friendly competition with Conference USA rival Western Kentucky University by preparing to “Bleed Blue, Beat WKU” at its annual three-day drive in the Campus Recreation Center, 1848 Blue Raider Drive.

Donors can make appointments now for 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day at http://bit.ly/MTSUBleedBlue2019. Thanks to the American Red Cross, each pint of whole blood donated can be separated into its components — red blood cells, plasma and platelets — to potentially help three people.

Three people who know firsthand how that works are MTSU alumni Shane Blissard and Danielle Boyd-Garrett and retired U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Keith Huber, the university’s senior adviser for veterans and leadership initiatives.

Blissard, a Blue Raider football player and concrete industry grad (B.S. ’12), was accidentally hurt in a spring training camp before his senior season. His ruptured spleen required two emergency surgeries and 14 pints of blood; the average human body only holds 10 pints.

Boyd-Garrett, a 2014 Bachelor of University Studies grad, lives with a genetic blood disorder that’s required multiple transfusions. She can’t give blood anymore, but she volunteers at blood drives and encourages others to donate regularly to replenish supplies.

Huber, who served 38 years in the military before joining MTSU in 2015, has seen blood save lives on battlefields and in operating rooms where his loved ones lay. It’s even saved his life.

“I would pray that the public doesn’t need to face those life-and-death situations and the trauma associated with it to recognize that blood collection is essential,” he said in a video encouraging participation in last year’s “Bleed Blue” drive.

“So many people go, ‘Gee, you know I want to help people, I want to make a contribution, I want to give back to society, to our community, to our nation.’ … Here’s an opportunity for you to do something that is larger than yourself, to make a contribution and to serve those in need, whether it be from the horror of combat or accidents on the roadway or natural disasters.”

MTSU is the defending champion in the annual “blood battle” challenge with Western, bringing home the Red Cross’ trophy six times since Director of Athletics Chris Massaro established the competition in 2010. The 2018 drive collected 1,015 total pints of blood from the universities’ supporters. The 2019 winner will be announced at the MTSU-Western game in Bowling Green, Kentucky, Saturday, Nov. 30.

MTSU and Western have collected 8,705 total pints of blood — more than 1,088 gallons — since the challenge began. Because each unit of blood can aid three different patients, the competition has helped more than 26,115 people across Tennessee and parts of Kentucky, Illinois and Missouri.

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 suggestions at http://ow.ly/AiN07.

Donors will have free reserved parking at the Rec Center Nov. 18-20, and each will receive a new custom-designed T-shirt, free pizza and a gift e-card while supplies last. Massaro also is giving each MTSU donor four free tickets to the Nov. 23 MTSU vs. Old Dominion football game.

Walk-in donors are welcome, but those with appointments will be processed first and finish their donations faster. On donation day, donors can save even more time by completing the “Rapid Pass” online health questionnaire at http://www.redcrossblood.org/rapidpass.

“The Bleed Blue Blood drive is a great opportunity for both campus communities at MTSU and WKU to give back to others in their time of need,” said blood drive coordinator Ray Wiley, associate director of MTSU Campus Recreation and a longtime Red Cross volunteer.

“Everyone can help by either giving the gift of life-saving blood or by volunteering their time to help us during the drive!”

For directions to the Rec Center, visit http://www.mtsu.edu/camprec/directions.php.

For updates and more information about the blood drive, follow @MTSUNews on Twitter with the hashtags #BleedBlueMTSU and #BleedBlueBeatWKU.