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U-M beats Ohio State in life-saving organ donation challenge

U-M takes home annual Wolverine-Buckeye Challenge trophy

Ann Arbor, Mich. – The University of Michigan beat Ohio State in an annual donation contest, but the real winners will be those who are helped by the lifesaving donations secured during two annual challenges between the Wolverines and the Buckeyes.

Before even taking the football field for the big game, the Wolverines and Buckeyes went head-to-head trying sign up more people to the state's organ donor list and collect more pints of blood.

The U-M signed up 112,780 donors to Ohio State's 68,397 in the Wolverine-Buckeye Challenge for Life that ended at midnight on Thanksgiving. However, Ohio State won the two-week Blood Battle contest, which is in its 31st year.

The U-M collected 2,232 pints of blood falling short of Ohio State's 2,402. U-M officials acknowledged the storied rivalry between the two schools make these challenges fun, but the real winners are those who are waiting for a organ, tissue or cornea transplant or who need crucial blood donations.

Every day, 19 people die while waiting for a life-saving organ transplant and another 138 people are added to the national waiting list. Every two seconds someone in the U.S. needs blood and more than 38,000 blood donations are needed every day. The two challenges were promoted by Wolverines For Life, a group dedicated to encouraging organ, tissue, eye, blood, and bone marrow donation by U-M employees, patients, students, alumni, fans and everyone in the state of Michigan.

Wolverines for Life is a collaboration between the U-M Health System, Michigan Athletics and other U-M groups like the community service organization Alpha Phi Omega, along with the American Red Cross, Gift of Life Michigan, the Michigan Eye-Bank and the Be the Match Foundation. U-M won the Blood Battle in 2011, 2010, 2009 and 2008.

The Blood Battle is organized and run by Alpha Phi Omega, a student-run volunteer organization, in cooperation with the Red Cross.

U-M co-sponsors the Wolverine-Buckeye Challenge for Life with Gift of Life Michigan, which is the state's federally designated organ and tissue recovery organization. The challenge with Ohio State began in 2006 and this is the third time U-M has won the challenge.

U-M has one of the oldest and largest transplantation programs in the country and U-M surgeons perform transplants of hearts, lungs, pancreases, livers, kidneys, and corneas. About 400 to 450 transplants are done at U-M annually, mostly kidney transplants followed by liver, heart, lung and pancreas. You can still sign up on the state's donor registry at www.giftoflifemichigan.org.

Gift of Life Michigan, in collaboration with the Michigan Eye-Bank, provides all services necessary for organ, tissue and eye donation. More information about blood donation opportunities is available at www.redcrossblood.org.

Bone marrow donors can join the Be the Match Registry, www.BeTheMatch.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. Funding for Wolverines for Life efforts is provided in part by the Gift of Life Foundation.

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