DOVER, DE – Bayhealth teamed up with Blood Bank of Delmarva (BBD) and Delaware State University (DSU) Athletics to host the third annual Ballin’ for Blood Drive on Thursday, Feb. 1.

The blood drive booked 47 donors at Bayhealth Court in Memorial Hall Gym on the main DSU campus. Presenting donors were entered into a chance to win four tickets to a Philadelphia 76ers game in March.

BBD staff member and student blood donor.

Bayhealth registered several students and other donors during the Hornets’ basketball doubleheader Saturday, Jan. 27, Among those donating were Delaware State University students Juliana Cooksey, Olivia Hill, Ryan Williams, Cydney Harris-Stephens, Anaiya Pierce, Monalisa Seaton, and Tyesha Wilmer.

Cooksey, a sophomore criminal justice major, donated double red cells. She signed up during the basketball doubleheader on Saturday, January 27.

“I was like, ‘I’ll donate,’” Cooksey said. “And on the first day of Black History Month!”

Hill, a sophomore art education major, donated at Ballin’ for Blood for the second year in a row.

“I just thought I should donate through the school again,” Hill said. “I thought it would be easy.”

Williams, a junior business management, donated for the first time ever.

A smiling blood donor being attended to by BBD phlebotomist.

“It’s a good cause,” he said.

Bayhealth employees contributed to the cause as well. Among those donating at Ballin’ for Blood were Kimberly Holmes, Sarah Thomas, Carrie Hart, Krista Kittle, Roxanne Miller, Denise Austin, and Holly Marker.

As Hart said, “I wanted to support my teammate, Jessie.” She was referring to Jessica Dmiterchik, Marketing Specialist for Bayhealth and the blood drive coordinator.

​​​​​​​The drive at DSU, an historically black college, coincided with the start of Black History month. During this time, BBD will work closely with community partners to increase African American donors. Right now, about 5.7 percent of BBD’s donors are African American, an increase of 0.6 percent between 2022 and 2023.

According to a guide published by America’s Blood Centers (ABC) and ADRP, one in three African American donors are a match for a patient with sickle cell disease, a blood disorder that affects around 100,000 Americans. Having a diverse donor population can help ensure a better blood match for patients needing treatment. 

Holmes, Stroke Coordinator for Bayhealth and an alum of DSU, likes the idea of raising awareness about renowned African American surgeon Dr. Charles R. Drew being known as the father of blood banking.

Smiling BBD staff members.

“We need to talk about that every day of the month, and I would keep it going at least quarterly,” Holmes said. “A lot of awareness begets education. If you can raise that awareness, I think that’s fantastic.

“Just in December, my mother had heart surgery, and she ended up needing 10 units of blood,” she added. “I can’t imagine hearing, ‘We don’t have any.’ It just made it even more important to me. My mother is one person, and she needed 10 units!”

Anaiya Pierce, a senior psychology major at DSU, donated for the second time. Pierce too appreciates raising awareness about blood banking’s strong link to blood banking, even if she was somewhat incredulous about reaching the younger generation.

“I think it will raise awareness amongst the community in general,” Pierce said.

Wilmer, a sophomore social work major, appreciated the chance to do something philanthropic for the community.

“I just like donating,” she said. “A little bit goes a long way. Every little bit helps.”