Choose to be a donor, choose to save a life: new video encourages life-saving donation

Wolverines for Life kicks off annual challenges against Ohio State for blood donation, organ donor registry

ANN ARBOR, Mich., Oct. 3, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- What would you say to someone who saved your life? In an inspirational new video, U-M patients say thank you to the donors who provided blood, bone marrow, organs and tissues.

The video "Choose to be a donor, choose to save a life" is the cornerstone of this fall's Wolverines for Life campaign that includes a massive donor drive on Nov. 4.

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 video includes messages of thanks from multiple recipients including two men who received lungs from the same donor; a boy who needed 50 units of blood in one night; and children at Camp Michitanki, a summer camp for transplant recipients.

With original music by singer/songwriter Ben Neumann, the video is designed to inspire people to sign up as organ donors, give blood and get screened for bone marrow donation.

U-M officials also hope the video will 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. 24, this year at Ohio State. For the last two years, U-M won both challenges.

"This video beautifully illustrates that it is so simple to make a tremendous difference in someone's life. By signing up as an organ/tissue donor, getting screened for bone marrow donation or simply giving blood, you can be a hero and save someone's life," says Jeffrey Punch, M.D., director of transplantation at the University of Michigan's Transplant Center.

"We don't have enough organs or bone marrow available for those who need life-saving transplants. In fact, about 115,000 people currently are waiting for organ transplants, about the same number of people who fill Michigan Stadium for a football game, and that's what makes our annual fall challenges against Ohio State so appropriate."

"Be a Hero at the Big House," is in its second year and is expected to be U-M's largest donor drive ever. The event is scheduled Nov. 4 at Michigan Stadium in the club level. From 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., participants can donate blood, sign up on the Michigan Organ Donor Registry, be screened for bone marrow donation as well as tour the club-level seating area and get a souvenir photo with the stadium in the background. Appointments for blood donation can be made at

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

"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," Punch says.

Those who donate at the Big House event will be entered into raffle drawings for various prizes. Parking will be free at the stadium near the club-level doors on the Crisler Arena side.

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.

To sign up and credit U-M, go to, click on the button to become a donor and sign up for U-M. It takes only a few minutes online, and you will receive in the mail a red heart to affix to the front of your driver's license signifying you as an organ donor. The challenge ends at 11:59 p.m. Nov. 22, in advance of the Nov. 24 football game between Ohio State and U-M.

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, beginning Nov. 1 and ending Nov. 16.

Go to to register. Use the promotion code "goblue."

Bone marrow donors also can find information about the Be The Match Registry at 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.

Partial funding for Wolverines for Life efforts is provided in part by the Gift of Life Foundation.

SOURCE University of Michigan Health System