Medical students compete in Vampire Cup

Across the nation medical schools have been fiercely competing for the title of bloodiest university, with students rolling up their sleeves and donating blood to secure critical stocks for winter.

The Vampire Cup is the Australian Medical Students’ Association’s annual competitive blood drive.

Australian Red Cross Blood Service Perth Donor Centre. Photo: Amelia Channer-Holmes

One in three Australians will require a blood donation some time in their life yet only one in 30 Australians give blood a year, according to the Australian Red Cross.

President of AMSA Jessica Yang said the blood drive had secured a significant number of life-saving donations.

 “Vampire Cup has grown with each consecutive year to our biggest year ever in 2018 with 3044 individual donations,” she said.

“Currently, as of May 19, Vampire Cup has secured 2528 donations and overall we are projecting a larger number of individual donations in 2019.

“We have plenty of anecdotal evidence on the effectiveness of Vampire Cup in creating life-long or regular donors.”

Organiser of Curtin Medical School’s team Ben White said one donation could save three lives.

“I’ve donated blood or plasma 11 times, so in my mind that’s 33 people that have potentially been saved through very small time commitments,” he said.

“Blood donations are crucial for running hospitals and saving lives.

“Many people feel as though they’re not going to contribute much but every single person ends up mattering.”

A blood donation appointment only takes around an hour, according to the Australian Red Cross Blood Service. Photo: Ben White

Dubbed by AMSA as the battle to save lives, the Vampire Cup awards competitors one point for their respective university tally for every whole blood, plasma or platelet donation.

Ms Yang said while the Vampire Cup was a competition, universities were united in a positive, common goal.

“A big driving factor is the sense of camaraderie and competitiveness between medical schools,” she said.

“Currently, the Australian National University has won for the past three years but only after knocking Deakin University off a five year winning streak.

“While everyone is competing for bragging rights as the most generous university, everyone understands this competition is a way to generate excitement and inform students about blood donations.”

Mr White said awareness was the key to securing blood donations from his generation.

“Apart from my close friends and family members who do donate, I haven’t heard any of my other 700 Facebook friends talk about it,” he said.

“From what I’ve seen with my involvement with the Vampire Cup, once people hear about it, they do their own research and immediately see blood donations are vital.”

Organiser of University of Western Australia’s team Anushree Loyalka said the competition opened up a larger conversation on medical donations.

“It allows people to see that donations aren’t some scary, foreign concept out of a sci-fi movie,” she said.

“Blood donations are the least time consuming and the easiest to participate in.

“[Vampire Cup] helps foster a community spirit surrounding donations, and hopefully makes donating seem less scary and more fun.”