Two of Utah's biggest public institutions are going head-to-head in a bloody battle trying to rally donors and collect the most blood from the campus community.
The University of Utah hasn't claimed a victory since the first competitive blood drive six years ago. Every year since, Utah State University has held the top "bleeder" title.
USU poked and prodded more than a thousand students, faculty, staff and community members last week, gathering more blood donations than ever before on the Logan campus. Similarly, veins are being drained in Salt Lake all this week, with record numbers turning out for the first day Monday and hopes set high to beat USU's numbers.
Blood collected in the friendly contest will benefit patients and replenish blood banks across northern Utah, with the U.'s blood going directly to four area hospitals, including the U. Hospital, Huntsman cancer hospital, Primary Children's Medical Center and the Shriners Hospital for Children.
"August was by far the busiest month ever for blood used," said ARUP Blood Services spokesman Lance Bandley, adding that the number of trauma and transplant surgeries required nearly 1,700 units for the entire month, which all but drained their banks. "We're quite a bit behind, and this healthy competition will really help us catch up."
Typically, Bandley said, 1,400 units are used each month. Each donor can provide about one liter of blood, which equates to one unit.
Blood collected at USU last week stocked up the American Red Cross in Logan and surrounding areas, giving them a boost out of the slow season for blood donations.
"Needles can be scary to some people, but I'm proud of their willingness to support a good cause and donate blood," said Brett Healey, Associated Students of USU vice president. He said most of the 1,235 units collected last week was donated by students on campus.
"It's a great opportunity to do so much good for so many people," he said. He said he dares the U. to beat their record and that results, along with a trophy, will be presented at the Aggie-Ute football game this Saturday.
Donations to the Bleed Red campaign can be made on campus at the A. Ray Olpin Union Ballroom or the Bloodmobile north of the bookstore from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. or at ARUP Blood Services in Murray or Research Park in Salt Lake City.
"This is a great way to acquaint students with one of the many community service opportunities available at the U. The blood donated is needed and appreciated by our local hospitals," said Stanley Lloyd, community services director for the Associated Students of the U. He said the U. has a goal of collecting at least 1,300 pints of blood in order to beat USU.
U. donors will receive a "Bleed Red" T-shirt and will be eligible to win prizes, including an iPod or a two-year lease on a Mitsubishi car from Ken Garff South Towne. For more information, visit www.utahblood.org.