Kentuckians give blood for chance to see Taylor Swift. Ticket giveaway credited with donor surge.

Republished from Kentucky Lantern

FRANKFORT — A Taylor Swift ticket giveaway worth thousands of dollars and aimed at incentivizing more people to donate blood worked, Kentucky Blood Center donor numbers show.  

From May 28 through June 29, anyone who donated at any Kentucky Blood Center location was entered to win two Eras Tour tickets for Nov. 3 in Indianapolis. 

The anatomy of Kentucky’s blood supply, and why more need to donate

The winner, who has not yet been announced, will also get a $500 gift card to help with travel. Seat Geek shows tickets for that day range from $1,988 to $6,486 apiece

Blood donors also received Swift-themed t-shirts and friendship bracelets, which are often exchanged by people in the Swift fandom at concerts.

During the month of the giveaway, 1,592 first-timers donated with the Kentucky Blood Center. That’s up from 929 during the same time period in 2023 and 799 during the same time period in 2022. 

During the giveaway time period, the center saw 9,233 total registrations, up from 8,479 in 2023 and 7,537 in 2022. 

The number of young donors dipped dramatically during the pandemic, in part because mobile drives couldn’t go into schools. In recent years, schools have allowed mobile blood drives to resume.

Still, donations haven’t reached pre-pandemic levels yet, which staff say is possibly because of lingering discomfort due to COVID-19.

A big goal of the Swift giveaway was to incentivize younger donors, KBC spokesman Eric Lindsey told the Lantern. 

While age data isn’t yet available, the increase of first-time donors “leads us to believe that we met our goal in terms of bringing in, bringing in a new crowd,” Lindsey said Monday. 

“The fact of the matter is, we brought in people who have never donated blood before,” he said. 

Donor data from the month of the giveaway shows that about 17% of all donors were first time donors. That’s more than 6% higher than the past two years. 

With any increase in new donors, the rate of deferrals is expected to increase. A deferral is when someone is turned away for issues like low iron or failure to meet other eligibility criteria. 

The deferral rate did increase to 15% during the month of the giveaway, up from around 13% the past two years during the same time. Despite this, Lindsey said, the rate of deferral was “honestly not as high as we thought it would be.” 

Thanks to the increase in donations, the center was able to keep a steady supply of blood despite the expected decrease in donations over the July 4 holiday, when donation centers were closed. 

“We did so well in terms of total blood collected,” Lindsey said, “that we just went through that (holiday) period, and yet we still have a really healthy supply.” 

Taylor Swift performs on opening night of The Eras Tour at State Farm Stadium in March 2023 in Arizona. (Kevin Winter/Getty Images for TAS Rights Management)

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