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Pies in the face mark the end of the first round of blood donation challenge. Your donation may determine who gets the next pie.

Shon Dwyer smooshed a pie into the face of Tom Nantais. Mary Pawlikowski smooshed a pie into the face of Meg Rush. Who's next?

by May 4, 2022

Shon Dwyer and Tom Nantais, before…

…and after. Photos by Erin O. Smith

Shon Dwyer, MBA, RN, President of Vanderbilt University Hospital (VUH), smooshed a pie into the face of Tom Nantais, MBA, Executive Vice President for Adult Ambulatory Operations at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

A few days later, Mary Pawlikowski, MA, MEd, President of the Vanderbilt Psychiatric Hospital (VPH), smooshed a pie into the face of Meg Rush, MD, MMHC, President of Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt.

These good-natured dessert-pastry applications were the payoff from a blood donation challenge that began in March. The goal was to see which of the four main-campus entities of VUMC could have more employees per capita donate blood.

The first bracket of this Blood Donation March Madness concluded with VUH topping the clinics and VPH edging Children’s Hospital  —  so the respective leaders of the winning entities were invited to “pie” the faces of the leaders of the second-place entities.

The real winners, of course, were the patients who rely on blood donations. The donations to VUMC blood suppliers Blood Assurance and the American Red Cross, both of whom regularly conduct drives at VUMC, potentially impacted hundreds of patients. Blood Assurance is a Tennessee-based non-profit blood donation organization that distributes its collected units locally and regionally. When VUMC is responsible for a specific number of donations, Blood Assurance directs a guaranteed portion for VUMC patients.

“We need a stable dependable replenishment of blood every day, so please donate or encourage your family and friends to do so.”

“We transfuse hundreds of blood products every day for our patients here at VUMC, so donating blood is literally helping save lives,” said Jennifer Andrews, MD, associate professor of Pathology, Hematology and Immunology and medical director of the VUMC Blood Bank.

“All of our patients — babies born prematurely, cancer patients, trauma patients — blood literally touches every specialty, they all need blood every day. We need a stable dependable replenishment of blood every day, so please donate or encourage your family and friends to do so,” she said.

Toward that end — more donations — the contest isn’t over.

The winners of the first round, VPH and VUH, will square off against each other in the final round. Call it May Madness.

From now through May 13, employees who give blood at a Blood Assurance or American Red Cross drives may vote for the team of their choice at the time of donation, or by self-reporting the donation on the honor system to Even those who don’t work directly for one of these entities can vote for their favorite team, and donations may also be given at satellite locations.

The stakes are equally high this time around — will it be Shon Dwyer giving Mary Pawlikowski a pie in the face, or vice-versa?

The blood donations will tell the story. And someone will end up with pie on her face.

To find the times and locations of upcoming blood drives, go to VUMC’s dedicated blood donation web page at

Mary Pawlikowski and Meg Rush before…

…and after. Photos by Erin O. Smith

Jennifer Andrews, Organ & Blood Donation, Blood Bank, Blood Assurance, American Red Cross