Yale Daily News

As Yale and Harvard squared off this past weekend in the hockey rink and on the basketball court, other students participated in a different type of competition — the annual Yale vs. Harvard blood drive.

Sponsored by the American Red Cross Association, the blood drive takes place every January at Yale and every February at Harvard. This year, Yale’s drive collected 251 pints of blood, surpassing last year’s total by 12 pints. The blood drive at Yale took place the Slifka Center for Jewish Life at Yale from Jan. 22 to Jan. 25. Rose Bender ’19, co-president of the American Red Cross at Yale, which organized the drive, said her organization coordinates several drives each year, but that the Yale-Harvard drive is always its biggest event.

The college that raises the most pints of blood per capita among undergraduates wins the competition. After Harvard’s drive concludes in February, this year’s winner will be crowned.

Bender said the drive was particularly important this year because harsh winter weather on the East Coast has created a blood shortage at the Red Cross.

The Red Cross has “drives scheduled basically every day of the winter. So when there’s a snow storm, they have to cancel the drive,” Bender explained. “Additionally, when there’s snow, fewer people come out, more people get sick, and numbers just go down.”

After collecting the blood, the Yale group sends it to the Red Cross, which then transports it to hospitals in the region.

Danielle Huntington, a representative from the Connecticut Red Cross who helped supervise the drive, explained that the group prioritizes the needs of local hospitals. But she added that the Red Cross’ system allows it to deliver lifesaving blood products wherever they are needed.

Huntington also praised the Yale chapter of the Red Cross for its work in collaboration with the broader organization.

“Yale runs several drives with us throughout the year,” Huntington explained. “The students, volunteers and staff are a pleasure to work with, and so passionate about the Red Cross.”

Bender said the annual Yale vs. Harvard blood drive, as well as blood drives organized by the Yale Police Department and the School of Medicine, makes Yale the second largest blood supplier in the state of Connecticut, second only to the University of Connecticut.

One of the 318 donors in this year’s drive, Melanie Grad-Freilich ’19, said she donated to increase the Red Cross’ preparedness for disasters.

“It’s important to donate blood because it’s a super simple and easy way to help prepare for disasters instead of feeling helpless and stuck when the time comes,” Grad-Freilich said. “I also know that there are many people who regularly need blood at hospitals and it’s better to have too much blood available than too little.”

The next blood drive for the American Red Cross at Yale will take place on Feb. 7 and 8.

Aakshi Chaba | aakshi.chaba@yale.edu