Blood drive pits A&M against UT

Emily Sides

As Thursday’s football game against the Aggies approaches, the rivalry between UT and Texas A&M University deepens as the Blood and Tissue Center of Central Texas gives a new meaning to the tradition.

The center launched “What Color Do You Bleed? UT vs. A&M Blood Drive Challenge,” which aims to help the center meets its need of 200 donations a day to serve 10 counties with more than 37 hospitals and medical facilities. Every donor casts a vote for their favorite team.

“During the holiday season, blood donations will go down because schools are not in session and students travel,” said Cindy Rowe, a center spokeswoman. “We rely on 50 percent or more from high school students and college students.”

Rowe said the process takes 45 minutes and involves a survey about health history with snacks and burnt orange or maroon T-shirts provided afterwards. She said every donation of one pint can help save or enhance two lives.

“When I was in the hospital, I knew people who died because they didn’t have his or her rare blood type,” said center spokesperson Ty Gibson, whose juvenile diabetes caused kidney failure 10 years ago. Gibson’s mother donated her kidney, but he also needed a pancreas from a deceased donor. In one year, Gibson received six blood transfusions.

“It was the type of feeling you get if you’ve stayed up for 42 hours and you’re about to fall asleep,” he said about his physical condition before receiving blood. “And when I’d get the blood, it was like a jolt of life.”

Since receiving treatment to manage his diabetes, Gibson said he spends half of his time speaking to people about his experience. He has been with the center for more than a year and a half and has also been volunteering for more than four years with Texas Organ Sharing Alliance.

Phlebotomist and Texas A&M alumnus Philip Green said regardless of a donor’s team preference, donating has a real benefit.

“As of today, I’ve gotten married, opened my own business and adopted my own baby girl,” Gibson said. “It was pretty rough time. Without [the donations], I would’ve been done.”

The campaign began Nov. 20 and continues through Wednesday until 5 p.m. The closest location to campus is 4300 N. Lamar Blvd. As of early Tuesday afternoon, the agency had a total of 84 UT donors and 39 A&M donors.

— Additional reporting by Michael Baldon