By Lindsay Connolly
Staff Writer

The 7th Annual Bleed Orange Blood Drive competition between the Lady Vols and the Vanderbilt Commodores kicked off this Monday.
The blood drive, which will last until the end of the week, was set up to help local blood banks that usually tend to see a drop in donations during the month of February.
Christi Fightmaster, public relations coordinator for Medic Regional Blood Center, 1601 Ailor Ave., said more donations are still needed.
“We need to collect at least 350 pints of blood per day and currently we are only averaging about 250 a day,” Fightmaster said. “So basically we are running the risk of not fulfilling our area hospital needs.”
All of the donations taken throughout the week will go to the Medic Regional Blood Center, which is the only blood center that supplies all 28 local area hospitals in East Tennessee.
“This is a great time to give blood because Medic has an emergency need for all blood types,” Fightmaster said. “Plus we won the competition last year and we want to make sure that Commodore fans don’t get to take that trophy back to Nashville.”
Lady Vol fans who donate blood will receive a limited edition “Bleed Orange” T-shirt, a coupon for a Chick-Fil-A Sandwich and Medic’s family blood coverage. The coverage exempts the donors and their parents (if they still claim student as an IRS dependent) for a year from paying blood collection fees at any U.S. hospital whenever a transfusion is needed.
“Giving blood is probably one of the most selfless things you can do,” Mike Smith, a senior in finance, said. “It really doesn’t take that much time, and you could possibly save somebody’s life by taking just a couple minutes out of your day to donate.”
Fightmaster also urges students to realize the impact one donation can make, not only in the competition but in someone else’s life.
“When you weigh the pros and cons of giving blood, I think the pros certainly outweigh the cons,” she said. “I don’t know what else you can do that takes less than an hour and has such a significant impact on the community, since one donation can help save three lives.”
The donations may not only save patients’ lives but also donors’ time.
“We will be set up in locations across campus all week long and we really are trying to make is as easy as possible for students and faculty to donate,” Fightmaster added. “Even if you aren’t entirely sure about the whole process we encourage everyone to come down and at least see what it is all about.”
Anyone interested in donating must be at least 17 of age, weigh over 110 pounds and have some form of personal identification, such as a student ID or driver’s license.
The contest’s winner will be announced during the UT-Vanderbilt women’s basketball game in Knoxville on Sunday, Feb. 25.