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Health, Science & Environment

Crew-Cincinnati 'Blood Battle,' LGBTQ+ donations help fill central Ohio blood banks this August

Tubes direct blood from a donor into a bag.
Charlie Neibergall
Tubes direct blood from a donor into a bag in Davenport, Iowa, on Friday, Nov. 11, 2022.

The Crew won the match, but it remains to be seen whether Columbus or Cincinnati collected more blood donations in the Hell is Real Blood Battle.

The competitive blood drive began at the beginning of the month and wrapped up Friday.

In Columbus, the American Red Cross hosted five special blood drives, including one at the Crew's home Lower.com Field the day before the showdown with F.C. Cincinnati.

Other donations in Columbus were also counted for the Crew, said Red Cross central and southern Ohio regional communications manager Don Hawkins.

He said the Red Cross often partners with professional teams in Columbus, but normally the events are not competition-based. Ohio State and Michigan have a blood drive battle every year as well leading up to their Thanksgiving weekend matchup.

"But anyone who watches soccer knows that the competition, especially for in-state rivals, is fierce," Hawkins said.

Hawkins estimated that a total of 5,000 to 10,000 people donated for both teams.

“It's great to see such a big showing that normally we wouldn't have that in the month of August. We wouldn't have that bump from the Columbus Crew,” Hawkins said. “And that's helped us ensure that the blood is on the shelves for the people that need it when they do need it.”

This month the Red Cross also changed its policy for LGBTQ+ donors to match U.S. Food and Drug Administration Guidelines suggesting an individual donor assessment for all blood donors regardless of gender or sexual orientation. The update allowed more people to donate blood.

The Red Cross does not ask about sexual orientation during donation – only about sexual history – but knows people in the LGBTQ+ community are excited about donating, Hawkins said.

“We have seen via social media, multiple people posting and tagging us, celebrating the fact that due to the change in requirements, this is the first time they've been allowed to donate,” he said.

As for the Blood Battle, Hawkins said the contest may become an annual event, though that’s up to the teams.

A trophy will be presented to this year’s winner, which is expected to be announced by the teams next week.

Allie Vugrincic has been a radio reporter at WOSU 89.7 NPR News since March 2023.