Blood banks fight for high school kids

Florida's Blood Centers logo

TEXT OF STORY

BILL RADKE: In Orlando, Fla., this week saw the conclusion of a bloody battle for the hearts -- or at least the veins -- of local high school kids. Two rival blood banks were trying to out-bid each other
for the right to hold blood drives at 19 local high schools.

From WMFE in Orlando, Judith Smelser reports.


JUDITH SMELSER: An Orlando-based group called Florida's Blood Centers has always given away token prizes at blood drives in Orange County high schools -- things like T-shirts and movie tickets. This year, the blood bank offered money, more than $50,000 to the schools themselves.

What changed? Mike Pratt is the blood bank's interim CEO.

MIKE PRATT: Now of course the schools are under financial pressures, and here's an opportunity for some scholarship money for their students.

But there's another factor. For the first time this year, his group had competition. A rival blood bank based in South Florida offered to pay the county schools for the right to hold high school blood drives. The local group won out in the end.

School district chief of staff Kathy Palmer says money had nothing to do with it.

KATHY PALMER: The deciding factor on that was that the blood stays locally with all that they collect.

But Florida's Blood Centers will be out a whole lot of money it wasn't expecting to spend. The cost will be passed along to area hospitals that already pay around $200 for each pint of red blood cells they get.

In Orlando, I'm Judith Smelser for Marketplace.

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