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Hundreds choose to Be a Hero at the Big House

More than 800 attend event Sunday, 230 pints of blood collected

Ann Arbor - More than 800 people attended the second annual Be a Hero at the Big House donor drive, donating 230 pints of blood, signing up on the Michigan Organ Donor Registry and joining the national bone marrow registry.

The 230 pints collected on Sunday made the event one of the largest Blood Battle drives expected this fall. Also Sunday, 110 people joined the organ donor registry and 96 were screened as potential donors by the Be the Match national bone marrow registry program.

Michigan Athletics and Wolverines for Life offered the public a chance to give the gift of life at the event, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Michigan Stadium.

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.

Also on Sunday, Michigan Athletics was awarded the Donate Life Champion award for its remarkable support for organ, eye and tissue donation. Associate Athletic Director Bruce Madej accepted the award on behalf of the department.

"We are very pleased to present this award to the University of Michigan Athletic Department, on behalf of Donate Life America," said Gift of Life Michigan CEO Richard Pietroski. "The U-M Athletic Department has helped tremendously in getting out the message that donation saves lives to hundreds of thousands of people. We encourage all U-M fans to join the Donor Registry in honor of the Wolverines -- become a FanForLife, and show that you're a Wolverine for Life."

It is fitting that Sunday's drive was held at Michigan Stadium. About 115,000 people currently are waiting for organ transplants nationwide, about the same number of people who fill the Big House for a football game.

Sunday's totals count toward U-M's annual challenges against Ohio State for organ donation registrations and blood donation collection.

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 redcrossblood.org to register. Use the promotion code “goblue.”

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.

Information about bone marrow donation also is available at www.wolverinesforlife.org

Partial funding for Wolverines for Life efforts is provided in part by the Gift of Life Foundation.

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