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"Battle of I-10" draws blood for a worthy cause Sept. 10 - 14

New Mexico State University and the University of Texas at El Paso have had a rivalry on the football field going back for decades, but for the past eight years the two schools have come together each fall semester to give back to both communities.

Poster for Blood Drive Sept. 10-14 in the parking lot at Corbett Center at New Mexico State University.
The I-10 College Coalition Blood Drive, Monday through Friday, is designed to urge as many people as possible to donate blood on both NMSU and UTEP campuses. (Courtesy image)

"This is not a rivalry, it is a challenge," said Lori McKee, director of NMSU's Campus Health Center. "We are challenging all Texans and New Mexicans to come out and donate blood."

The I-10 College Coalition Blood Drive, a weeklong event Sept. 10-14, is designed to urge as many people as possible to donate blood on both campuses. Last year, the total number of donations collected between UTEP and NMSU amounted to 1,263. The goal this year is to exceed 1,300 donations.

"Thirteen hundred is a high number and we hope to beat it," McKee said. "Someone in this country needs blood every two seconds and just one pint of blood can save up to three people's lives. The I-10 College Coalition Blood Drive is where Las Cruces and El Paso get a large portion of the early fall supply of blood to support the region."

The blood drive begins Monday, Sept. 10, at 11:15 a.m. outside Guthrie Hall. NMSU President Barbara Couture will be on hand to kick off the drive on "Milestone Monday," along with the Aggie Pride Band and NMSU cheerleaders. The event includes free food, music and giveaways. NMSU Campus Health Center officials hope to set the bar high for the rest of the week to surpass the number of blood donations on campus last year. The final tally of blood donations will be announced at the game on Saturday, Sept. 15, in El Paso.

A United Blood Services mobile unit will be parked in the Corbett Center parking lot between 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. through Friday, Sept. 14. Anyone who donates blood will receive a free t-shirt and will be eligible to win a VIP package, which includes two tickets to Saturday's football game, various Aggie cheering accessories and a one-night stay at the Garden Inn at UTEP after the game.

"This blood drive is about encouraging everyone in our community to give blood, no matter which side of the I-10 rivalry you are on," McKee said. "It is an important way for both communities to come together and make a difference."

Since Aggie athletes can't give blood during the drive, they worked with AggieVision to create a video to support the effort. You can see it at http://youtu.be/ljAm7IADBvk.

For more information about blood donation or about the I-10 College Coalition Blood Drive, contact United Blood Services at 575-527-1322.

Facts about blood donation (Source: America's Blood Centers)

How long does it take to give blood?

The process takes about an hour. The blood collection process itself is usually about 10 minutes, but the donation process includes registration, a brief medical screening, blood collection and refreshments.

How much blood is taken?

Whole blood and platelet donations take about one pint, roughly equal to one pound.

How often can you give blood?

Red blood cells can take two weeks or longer to fully return to normal. A healthy donor can donate whole blood every 56 days.

How much blood is in the human body?

Women have about 10 pints while men have about 12 pints of blood.

Are there age limits for donors?

Seventeen years old is the minimum donor age. There is no upper age limit.

How long until the blood is used?

All blood donations are processed and available for use between 24 and 48 hours. After processing, the red cells can be stored for 42 days. Plasma can be frozen and stored for up to 12 months. Platelets expire after five days.