SAN DIEGO (CNS) - The goal for Tuesday's Chargers Blood Drive XXXVII at the Town & Country Convention Center is to collect 1,200 pints, along with some DNA for research, according to the San Diego Blood Bank.
If that much is collected, it would be well over the nearly 1,100 units of blood collected at the event last year.
New this year, Illumina Inc. will host the Genome Zone, an interactive exhibit with information on DNA sequencing and how genetics play a role in human health. An extra tube of blood will be drawn from up to 100 pre-selected donors to provide DNA for sequencing, which will be available for research.
"We've been kind of saying that a pint of blood can save three lives, depending on how we process it," said Blood bank CEO David Wellis. "But an extra tube of blood, to a researcher, can save thousands of lives."
The donations are part of a nationwide effort to get blood donation facilities involved in collecting a variety of genetic samples for researchers to use. Participants in the study will receive results and learn how they will impact their health care.
As usual, current and former Chargers players will be on hand, along with musical entertainment and the Chargers Girls, during the blood drive, which begins at 9 a.m. at the Town & Country Convention Center in Mission Valley.
The blood drive started in 1979 when Rolf Benirschke, a popular Chargers placekicker at the time, developed ulcerative colitis and underwent two surgeries to remove his large intestine, which required about 80 pints of blood.
Team officials called the San Diego Blood Bank and asked if they could collect donations, and the next day about 1,000 fans showed up at the stadium and donated nearly 300 pints of blood. More than 72,000 pints have been collected in the years since then.
On the question of whether there will be a 38th edition next year -- considering that the Chargers are entertaining a possible move to Los Angeles -- Wellis said there shouldn't be an impact. The San Diego Blood Bank is expanding operations in both Los Angeles and Orange counties, neither of which have their own blood banks, he said.
"We've enjoyed a 37 year relationship (with the Chargers) and look forward to many years to come," Wellis said.
The SDBB operates a distribution center in Buena Park and plans to open one in Los Angeles County early next year, according to Wellis. The blood bank also has a donation facility at Hoag Hospital Newport Beach.
Admission to the blood drive is $5 for adults, $1 for children ages 2 to 12. Blood donors can request a refund after they give blood, or they can donate their fee to the blood bank.
Parking is free only for blood donors. Parking cost at the hotel for other attendees is $4 per hour, to $8 maximum.
Donors must be at least 15 years old and weigh at least 114 pounds, and those 15 and 16 years old must have parental consent.