Each year, Penn State and Michigan State duke it out in a blood battle — working to be the school that donates the most units.
This year, Penn State is trailing Michigan State University in the 19th annual Blood Donor Challenge put on by the Penn State Student Red Cross Club.
As of press time Monday, Penn State is down by 394 units of blood.
This deficit is steep for the number of blood drives left in the challenge, Wendi Keeler, donor recruitment representative for the Greater Alleghenies blood services region, said.
The overall official score of the challenge in terms of units of blood is 900 to 1268 with Michigan State in the lead, according to the Penn State Student Red Cross club’s website at 10 p.m. Monday.
There are blood drives from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. at the HUB-Robeson Center in Alumni Hall until Thursday.
Over the past 18 years, Penn State has won 12 challenges and Michigan State has won six, with Penn State losing last year, Krista Marcolina(senior-biobehavioral health), American Red Cross blood services intern, said.
In past years when Penn State has won the challenge, Penn State trailed Michigan State in the early days of the blood drive, but in the last week Penn State surged ahead, Keeler said.
But the large deficit will make a comeback difficult, and the cause of the low-turnout is a mystery to Keeler.
“I don’t know why we are so far behind. I wish I knew,” Keeler said.
Superstorm Sandy did not affect the number of units Penn State has collected because the American Red Cross factored in the estimated number of units lost due to canceled blood drives, Keeler said.
“Both schools attempt to collect 2,000 units of blood, and we break it down into goals for individual blood drives,” Keeler said. “We have been in this situation before, but usually early on in the challenge, we come a lot closer to meeting our individual blood drive goals.”
According to a daily email update written by Keeler, Michigan State has currently collected 96 percent of its goal, while Penn State has collected 87 percent.
“I have to say this is the lowest percentage of our goal collected that I can ever remember,” Keeler said in an email update.
Keeler said much of the population does not donate, even when they can help save three lives.
“In the college population, the eligibility percentage for giving blood is close to 70 to 75 percent, Keeler said. “But we collect less than 8,000 units off this campus, and there are 42,000 people who are eligible to donate four times a year.”
But there are students on campus who do donate whenever possible.
“I try to give blood every time I’m eligible, which is after two months,” student Andrew Reynolds (senior-civil engineering) said.
In order for Penn State to reach its overall challenge goal, it will have to exceed individual blood drive goals on each day, Keeler said.
Appointments are recommended, but the best time for walk-in donors is before 2 p.m., Keeler wrote in an email.