Ann Arbor, Mich. – Every day, 19 people die in the United States waiting for an organ, and thousands wait for bone marrow transplants. Every two seconds, someone in the United States needs blood to stay alive.
But also every day, life-saving donation gives many people a second chance at life. Michigan Athletics and Wolverines for Life will offer the public a chance to give the gift of life at the Be a Hero at the Big House event, Nov. 4 from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Michigan Stadium.
The massive donor drive includes opportunities to give blood, sign the Michigan Organ Donor Registry and register as a bone marrow donor with the Be the Match foundation. The drive will take place in the club-level seating area of the stadium, and participants can get a souvenir photo taken along with getting an up-close look at last year’s Sugar Bowl trophy.
Michigan Athletics is among the partners in Wolverines for Life, a collaboration between the University of Michigan Health System and other University of Michigan groups, schools and departments, along with the American Red Cross, Be the Match/National Marrow Donor Program, Gift of Life Michigan and the Michigan Eye-Bank.
Be a Hero at the Big House is in its second year. Appointments for blood donation can be made at www.wolverinesforlife.org. Signing up for the organ donor registry or participating in the Be the Match screening for bone marrow does not require an appointment.
“We hope to sign up a huge number of potential organ, tissue and bone marrow donors, collect many pints of blood, and give donors a chance to view the Big House’s club level too,” says Jeffrey Punch, M.D., director of transplantation at the University of Michigan’s Transplant Center.
The first 1,000 people at the Big House event will receive free Wolverines for Life T-shirts. Those who donate will be entered into raffle drawings for various prizes.
Parking will be free at the stadium near the club-level doors on the Crisler Arena side. Shuttle bus service will be running from the Michigan Union on the hour and half hours.
“We don’t have enough organs or bone marrow available for those who need life-saving transplants,” says Punch. “In fact, about 115,000 people currently are waiting for organ transplants, about the same number of people who fill Michigan Stadium for a football game, and that’s what makes our annual fall challenges against Ohio State so appropriate.”
The annual Wolverine-Buckeye challenge allows people to sign up as organ donors upon their death and have their pledge tallied for their favorite school. U-M co-sponsors the Wolverine-Buckeye Challenge with Gift of Life Michigan, which is the state’s federally designated organ and tissue recovery organization.
It acts as intermediary between donors, their families and hospital staff. Gift of Life Michigan, in collaboration with the Michigan Eye-Bank, provides all services necessary for organ, tissue and eye donation.
To sign up and credit U-M, go to www.wolverinesforlife.org, click on the button to become a donor and sign up for U-M. It takes only a few minutes online, and you will receive in the mail a red heart to affix to the front of your driver’s license signifying you as an organ donor.The challenge ends at 11:59 p.m. Nov. 22, in advance of the Nov. 24 football game between Ohio State and U-M.
Blood Battle: The event is sponsored by the American Red Cross Blood Services Region of Southeastern Michigan, as well as Alpha Phi Omega service fraternity with support from the Washtenaw County American Red Cross Club at U-M, and other student organizations on campus. More than 30 drives around the U-M campus have been scheduled, beginning Nov. 1 and ending Nov. 16. Go to www.wolverinesforlife.org to register. Use the promotion code “goblue.” Information about bone marrow donation also is available at www.wolverinesforlife.org.
Every year, 10,000 patients with leukemia, lymphoma and 70 other life-threatening blood diseases need a marrow or umbilical cord blood transplant but have no donor match in their family. They depend on Be The Match to help them find an unrelated donor and receive the transplant they need. For many, a marrow transplant is their best or only hope for a cure.
Partial funding for Wolverines for Life efforts is provided in part by the Gift of Life Foundation.