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Red Cross Encourages Young Americans to Become Blood Donors - 2003-12-07

For the past six months, two Red Cross convoys traveled the country, collecting blood and encouraging Americans to donate blood on a regular basis. While the Save a Life Tour achieved its goals, the campaign's mission continues.

In town after town, the Save a Life convoys would issue a challenge… for blood. "In terms of corporate organization, Ford Motor Company held the largest corporate blood drive," explains Red Cross Vice President for Donor Strategy Rodha Muthiah. She adds that in addition to corporate challenges, high school competed against high school and university against university.

"The University of Missouri in Colombia had the largest single-one-day collection of over 2000 blood units," she says. "We had the largest high school donation collection in Lakewood High School in Long Beach, California. They collected over 540 units of blood, just in their high school."

According to Ms. Muthiah, the Save a Life Tour succeeded because it was designed to entertain as well as educate. Both convoys included a mobile museum, an interactive teaching bus aimed at school children.

"We had many educators, biology teachers, high school students who all thought this was a very engaging way to communicate a very valuable subject matter," she says. "Then, we had also various sporting events and entertainment shows. We had one that celebrated Elvis birthday. We had multiple events that, I'd say, were non-traditional for the Red Cross. We really wanted to meet America in places that America tends to spend its time."

In all, the two convoys met millions of Americans, and the organization's Chief Scientific Officer Jerry Squires says the Save a Life Tour lived up to expectations.

"We wanted to collect in conjunction with this campaign about three million units of blood supply. And in fact we collected a little over 3.1 million units of blood," he points out. "We wanted to bring greater awareness of the importance of blood donation, and certainly we have done that. We wanted to focus on the youth, our next generation of blood donors through educational campaign. And we believe we had been successful in doing that as well."

But Dr. Squires stresses that the need for blood has not ended. He says donating blood is a vital community service, and the Save a Life Tour brought that message to the donors of the future.