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Be a Hero at the Big House Sunday during U-M's biggest life-saving donation drive

Wolverines for Life sponsors free event at Michigan Stadium that includes blood drive, bone marrow and organ donation registration, loads of family fun

Ann Arbor, Mich. – Be a Hero at the Big House, the University of Michigan’s largest life-saving donation drive, takes place Sunday, Nov. 17, at Michigan Stadium. Participants can give blood or register as an organ, eye, tissue or bone marrow donor from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The massive donor drive, which is in its third year, is free and is located in the Jack Roth Stadium Club, where attendees can get a VIP view of the famous stadium. Parking is free on the Crisler Arena side of the stadium.

The event is sponsored by Wolverines for Life, a collaboration between the U-M Health System, Michigan Athletics 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.

Media are invited to cover the event.

The event is part of the annual fall challenges between U-M and Ohio State – the Wolverine vs. Buckeye Challenge for Life, the Blood Battle and new this year the Marrow Match-up. Each school tries to beat the other in collecting blood donations or organ donor or bone marrow sign-ups before their teams meet on the gridiron Nov. 30, this year at U-M. U-M won the organ donation challenge in 2012, but lost in a close race in the Blood Battle.

“Signing up on the donor registry, giving blood or being screened for bone marrow donation is a simple thing to do, but it truly can save someone’s life,” says Jeffrey Punch, M.D., director of transplantation at the University of Michigan’s Transplant Center.

“We don’t have enough organs or bone marrow available for those who need life-saving transplants. In fact, about 119,000 people currently are waiting for organ transplants. That’s a few thousand more than the 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.”

Those who attend Sunday can tour the club-level seating area and take photos with several Michigan trophies or the stadium as a backdrop.

A full day of family fun is planned; details follow:
•    Free T-shirts
•    Take photos with a great backdrop of Michigan Stadium from the Jack Roth Stadium Club levels
•    Grab a doughnut and cider and enjoy the view from  the VIP level seats
•    See Tom Harmon’s Heisman Trophy and “silver football” Big 10 MVP trophy
•    Get a close up look at the 2011 Sugar Bowl Trophy and the 1997 National Championship trophy
•    See an exhibit of the winged helmets through the years
•    Watch the Lions game on the club level TVs
•    Children’s games from Team Michigan of the Transplant Games of America
•    Free relaxation classes from MHealthy, 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
•    Take your questions to our MHealthy personal trainer, 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
•    Snap a photo with Motty the Mott Block
•    Learn about clinical studies from MICHR, the Michigan Institute for Clinical and Health Research
•    Learn more about the Donate Life Coalition and Blood Drives United
•    Raffle drawing for fabulous prizes, including a signed puck from Detroit Red Wing Patrick Eaves, tickets to U-M Men’s Basketball vs. Northwestern and U-M Men’s Hockey vs. Ferris State.

Appointments for blood donation can be made at Click on the red “Pre-register to donate blood” button.

Signing up for the organ donor registry or participating in the Be the Match screening for bone marrow does not require an appointment.

The annual Wolverine vs. Buckeye Challenge for Life 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.

Every day, 18 people die while waiting for an organ transplant, 77 people receive an organ transplant and another 138 people are added to the national waiting list. A single organ and tissue donor can save eight lives and help up to 50 people.

To sign up and credit U-M, go to, click on the Gift of Life 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. 28, in advance of the Nov. 30 football game between Ohio State and U-M.

U-M leaders emphasize that after signing up, every U-M fan should tell family members or other loved ones they have done so – to make sure that those wishes are carried out in the event of their death.

Blood Battle: The event is sponsored by the American Red Cross Blood Services Region of Southeastern Michigan, as well as the student organization Blood Drives United 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. 4 and ending Nov. 27.

Marrow Matchup: Bone marrow donors also can find information about the Be The Match Registry at 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 by the Gift of Life Foundation.


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