U-M football staff, Health System leaders looking for "Wolverines for Life"

Help beat Ohio State and “Be a Hero at the Big House” Nov. 16 at U-M’s largest drive for organ, blood, tissue and bone marrow donors

Be a Wolverine for Life, by donating blood, organs, bone marrow and tissue

Ann Arbor, Mich. — Tucker Schumacher was just a baby when his parents got the nightmarish news. Their little guy was very sick, and just to survive, he needed a crucial organ transplant.

At 14 months old, little Tucker got a liver transplant at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital. Now he’s 18, entering his senior year of high school and a healthy young man. But stretched across his abdomen is a long scar – a constant reminder that he’s alive today because of a generous gift of life.

This fall, Tucker and other U-M leaders are encouraging all Michigan residents to consider donating blood and signing the Michigan Organ Donor Registry this fall. Tucker proclaims he is a “Wolverine for Life” in a new video along with Intercollegiate Athletic Director David Brandon; Ora Hirsch Pescovitz, Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs and CEO of the U-M Health System; Michigan Football Coach Brady Hoke; Hall of Famer Football Champion Desmond Howard; Tony Denton, chief operating officer of U-M Hospitals and Health Centers; broadcaster Jim Brandstatter; the entire Michigan Marching Band and others.

The video is designed to spur participation in the annual fall challenges between U-M and Ohio State – the Wolverine-Buckeye Challenge and the Blood Battle. Each school tries to beat the other in collecting blood donations or organ donor sign-ups before their teams meet on the gridiron Nov. 26, this year at the Big House in Ann Arbor. Last year, U-M won both challenges.

“Be a Hero at the Big House,” is new this year and is expected to be U-M’s largest donor drive ever. The event is scheduled Nov. 16 at Michigan Stadium in the club level. From 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., participants can donate blood, sign up on the Michigan Organ Donor Registry, be screened for bone marrow donation and tour the club-level seating area.

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

“We are thrilled to partner with our Athletics Department and the Michigan Football staff to encourage these crucial gifts of life,” says Jeffrey Punch, M.D., director of transplantation surgery at U-M.

“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. We could fill the Big House with the number of people currently waiting nationwide for an organ, so it’s fitting that this drive is being held there.”

Those who donate at the Big House event will be entered into raffle drawings for various prizes, including tickets to U-M athletic events. Parking will be free at the stadium near the club-level doors on the Crisler Arena side.

Wolverines for Life is a collaboration between the U-M 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.

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.

Every day, 19 people die while waiting for 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.

“Organ donation saves lives. Anybody can sign up to be an organ donor. There are a variety of tissues and organs that can be used to help someone suffering with disease or organ failure,” says Punch, adding that at U-M, physicians perform transplants of hearts, lungs, pancreas, livers, kidneys, and corneas and can even use the skin donated.

The 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 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.

Bone marrow donors can register at 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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