The University of South Carolina and Clemson University raised 5,284 pints of blood in 2021's Carolina Clemson Blood Battle.
The annual event is one of the largest blood drives in the country. Clemson raised 3,258 pints of blood and USC raised 2,026 pints of blood. That totals enough blood to save 15,852 lives in South Carolina, co-presidents of the Carolina Clemson Blood Drive Committee Julia Vallou and Brayden Kammar said.
“It’s a way that we can kind of embrace this rivalry that we use in so many areas of our life, not just for the purpose of the rivalry, but to do good in the world around Thanksgiving time,” Vallou, a fourth-year studio art student, said.
In its 37th year, the annual drive is a large operation that utilizes multiple locations across campus and is supported by the students who volunteer their time.
“As soon as the drive finishes the previous year, we start planning immediately for the second one. It's a full year-long commitment,” Kammar, a fourth-year biology student, said. “And then it's a lot of planning, logistics — kind of improving on what we did in years past.”
Historically, blood donations decrease during the holiday season due to a variety of factors. With the addition of the COVID-19 pandemic, blood donation centers have seen an even steeper decline than in normal years.
“It’s so important, and we make up a lot of the blood donations that occur in South Carolina,” Vallou said.
Anna Kabine, a first-year exercise science student, said she chose to donate her blood because of how important she thinks blood drives are for saving lives.
“My grandfather has always given blood, and I’ve always grown up giving blood,” Kabine said. “I think it’s just really important for everybody to do it because we don’t know if we’ll ever be in that situation where we need blood, so it’s just good to donate.”
The two organizations the blood drive committee partnered with are the American Red Cross and The Blood Connection. As FDA-regulated organizations, they must adhere to certain policies and procedures. Pre-screening questions help to determine students' eligibility to give blood based on these regulations.
One of the regulations that has come under scrutiny and changed recently is the deferral period on gay and bisexual men donating blood. The FDA does not allow men who have sex with men to donate blood within three months of intercourse, as of April 2020.
Organizations involved with the Carolina Clemson Blood Drive are unable to unilaterally enact changes concerning the deferral policy in their pre-screening process as regulated organizations. This regulation has been denounced by the American Red Cross on its website.
Previously in the semester, the Carolina Clemson Blood Drive Committee held small mini “welcome” drives. These drives help to boost donations and spread the word about the main event that helps to bring the campus together.
"At the end of the day, we're all part of the same community and really want to help out and save lives," Kammar said. “[USC and Clemson] come together and save tens of thousands of lives through our donations every single year, and that ability to help while maintaining that rivalry and competition really helps keep us going every single year.”