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19th annual Bleed Blue Blood Drive brings in hundreds of donors

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Indiana’s largest, day-long blood drive is happening today at Lucas Oil Stadium. The 19th annual Bleed Blue Blood Drive and Holiday Fest started at 8 a.m. and will last until 3 p.m. Saturday.

People will be able to donate blood, but also enjoy free family activities. People can participate in on-field games and activities, tour the Colts' field and locker room, meet cheerleaders and watch Christmas movies on the 50-yard line.

Every year the Indianapolis Colts and Indiana Blood Center, part of Versiti, host the single-day blood drive. The drive ensures that Indiana hospitals can meet patient needs during the holiday season and into 2019.

This year’s goal is to collect 1,100 units of blood. Since Bleed Blue’s inception, more than 14,700 people have given more than 13,000 units of blood during the drive.

O-negative blood is especially needed now. O-negative donors are universal blood donors, meaning their red blood cells can be transfused to patients with any blood type.

O-negative blood is carried on emergency air transport and found in hospital emergency rooms for situations when there is no time to determine a patient's blood type.

Donating blood takes about an hour. Anyone age 17 or older in good health who meets eligibility requirements is encouraged to give. Parental consent is required for donors age 16 to give. Donors should bring a photo ID that includes their birth date.

Appointments are encouraged but walk-ins are welcome. To schedule an appointment at Bleed Blue, visit Colts.com/BleedBlue or call Indiana Blood Center at 317-916-5150.

Donors will also get to meet Mariah Roberts.

Roberts was diagnosed with sickle cell disease just three days after she was born. At age 4, the Indiana girl had her spleen removed. Since, she has spent many nights in emergency rooms and hospitals and received several blood transfusions.

Her daily fight continues.

“My message for the world is to never give up," Mariah said. "Always remember we have hope, love and faith in God.”

Starting today, a heartwarming holiday thank-you card that Mariah created will be given to donors at all Indiana Blood Center donor centers and community blood drives.

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