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Lifesaving as an art

Hoxworth Blood Center & Local arts organizations hosting inclusive blood drive at Music Hall

Hoxworth Blood Center is teaming up with several local arts organizations for an arts-centered blood drive.

The Cincinnati Arts Association, Cincinnati Ballet, Cincinnati Opera, May Festival, Cincinnati Pops Orchestra, and Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra are lending their support to an inclusive, arts-focused blood drive at Music Hall on Wednesday, Aug. 12, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Donors will receive a free “Love Thy Neighbor” T-shirt and a swag bag containing a Hoxworth protein shaker bottle, an iconic “Legs” poster from the Cincinnati Ballet, a set of magnetic clips and a bookmark from the Cincinnati Symphony and Pops, socks from the Cincinnati Opera, a flyer for a 10% discount on three select CAA Presents shows in 2021, and other gifts. Musicians and artists from the Cincinnati Symphony, Pops Orchestra, Cincinnati Opera, and Cincinnati Arts Association will be performing throughout the day.

Additionally, in recognition of the involvement of the LGBTQ+ community in the arts, Hoxworth will be providing cards for donors and allies to sign in support of amending eligibility guidelines that prevent men who have sex with men from donating blood. These cards will then be sent to the FDA.

At the height of the HIV/AIDS crisis in the 1980s, the FDA had enacted a lifetime deferral on men who had sex with men (MSM), which remained in place until 2015, when the deferral was changed to one year, and then to six months in 2018. 

“We at Hoxworth want to acknowledge the unfortunate reality that not all members of the community are welcome to donate blood at this time, due to regulations from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Currently, men who have sex with men are deferred from donating unless they have been abstinent for at least three months,” said Alecia Lipton, Director of Public Relations at Hoxworth Blood Center. “Hoxworth supports changing these laws based on updated research, and encourages the implementation of policies that both ensure the safety of the blood supply and allow gay and bisexual men to save lives through blood donation.”

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the FDA released new guidance in April of this year that allows blood centers to change the MSM deferral period to three months. Hoxworth will be implementing this new deferral period in place on Aug. 31 after receiving FDA approval. Additionally, Hoxworth will be updating its policy on transgender individuals who wish to donate blood, allowing donors to fill out their donation paperwork as their self-identified gender, rather than their gender at birth.

“It is our hope that with this event, we can collect much-needed blood products for our area hospitals while simultaneously celebrating the role of the arts in our community and working to create a more inclusive environment for everyone in Cincinnati,” said Lipton.

“The Cincinnati Arts Association is proud to partner with Hoxworth and our fellow Music Hall resident companies as cohosts of this important blood drive,” said Steve Loftin, President, Cincinnati Arts Association. “At this time of heightened need in our community, we are pleased to provide historic Music Hall as a location for this life-giving event, with appropriate health and safety guidelines in place. However, we also understand the pain and frustration experienced by many members of the LGBTQ+ community who have been excluded from donating blood, and we stand strong with Hoxworth in advocating for inclusive and equitable blood donation laws and policies.” 

Jonathan Martin, President of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, added, “The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and the Pops recognize that during these challenging times we must extend effort beyond the healing power of music to serve our community. When we met with Hoxworth they made it very clear that the need for blood donations during the pandemic has become significant, and we are honored to partner with them in order to help meet this need while addressing the inequities that still exist in blood donation regulations that impact the LGBTQ+ members of our community.”

“Cincinnati Ballet is honored to participate with our fellow resident companies in this critical blood drive, as the pandemic has heightened the need for donations,” said Cincinnati Ballet CEO Scott Altman. “We are also thankful to Hoxworth for recognizing the current inequities in blood donation that affect the LGBTQ+ members of our community and advocating for a needed change in policy.”

Chris Milligan, The Harry Fath General Director & CEO of Cincinnati Opera, also weighed in, saying, “Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve been inspired by those who have come forward to support the most vulnerable members of our community. We’re grateful to Hoxworth for their ongoing work to advance public health as well as their advocacy for the inclusion of all LGBTQ+ donors. And we’re proud to partner with our fellow Music Hall resident companies in this special effort.”

Alecia Lipton of Hoxworth noted that the need for blood has continued to increase in recent weeks as hospitals perform surgeries and organ transplants that were postponed at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Masks are required at all Hoxworth locations, and this blood drive will set up in a large, open area in the Music Hall ballroom to adhere to social distancing protocols. Hoxworth staff will be changing gloves between each donor, and all shared surfaces will be sanitized at regular intervals.

Appointments for blood donation are highly encouraged at this time to manage donor flow and follow social distancing guidelines. Donors can schedule appointments by calling (513) 451-0910 or by scheduling online at www.hoxworth.org/groups/musichall.

Donors should enter the blood drive from the Box Office/Ballroom Entrance on Elm Street. Donors will receive discounted parking at CET/Town Center Garage located behind Music Hall on Central Parkway ($2 rate between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m., credit card only).

About Hoxworth:

Hoxworth Blood Center, University of Cincinnati was founded in 1938 and serves over 30 hospitals and medical facilities in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana.  Hoxworth collects blood from local donors to help save the lives of patients in area hospitals. Hoxworth Blood Center.  All Types Welcome.