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Banking on blood


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POSTED: Saturday, July 11, 2009

Question: I'm calling about the little card you get from the blood bank when you give blood for someone you know who needs a blood transfusion.

Years ago I thought that when you donated blood you could designate the person you wanted that blood to go to, and that person would receive a pint of blood or whatever for free. But my husband said they no longer do that.

So why do they give you a card saying you donated blood if there's no value in it except to show that you gave blood?

Can you please check this and let us know?

Answer: It's true that years ago — until the early 1980s — the Blood Bank of Hawaii did allow “;directed donations,”; in which a family member or clinical physician could assign a specific donor to a specific patient.

“;Today, directed donations are only available in the rare case where no other compatible blood is available for the recipient,”; said Blood Bank of Hawaii spokeswoman Laurie Chang. She said that would be a case deemed a “;medical necessity.”;

Meanwhile, as part of the blood bank's “;Lei Program,”; a donor may honor a specific patient by filling out a “;Lei Card.”;

“;This card acknowledges that a blood donation was made to the community blood bank in that person's name,”; Chang said. “;The donor fills out the card and sends it to the patient or patient's family.”;

The card says John Doe or whoever “;generously gave blood in your honor. This special contribution to the community blood supply helps ensure that blood products will be available for all Hawaii's patients.”;

The card goes on to say, “;Blood donation is a beautiful expression of aloha. Caring individuals give of themselves to help others, expecting nothing in return. Blood donations provide no financial or insurance credit to the donor or the person for whom the donation was made.”;

Chang said that contrary to your comment that “;there's no value”; to the card except to note a donation, “;we believe the Lei Card has intrinsic value.

“;It is an expression of aloha and a reminder for all of those caring donors who gave the gift of life in that person's name.”;

The Blood Bank's philosophy is that a blood donation goes into the community bank so that all Hawaii patients may receive blood products, regardless of whether someone donated in a specific person's name, Chang said.

You can find out more about the blood bank and donations by going to its Web site, www.bbh.org.

According to the blood bank, a single blood donation can save up to three lives. Typical recipients include cancer patients, mothers and babies during and after delivery, open-heart patients and accident and trauma victims.

Question: I recently received a text message that said, “;First Federal Bank Alert: Your card has been canceled. Please contact us at (931) 233-1092 to reactivate your card.”; I did not call them back. I do not have any account with them. I am guessing if I call them they will ask for credit information which they will then fraudulently use. Is there a place I should report this activity?

Answer: You were right to be suspicious.

When we called the number, we heard a recording from the Federal Trade Commission — dubbed “;the nation's consumer protection agency”; — that said the telephone number had been disconnected because it might be involved in a scam.

According to the FTC, the message had been sent via e-mail, text message or voice mail: “;But no matter how it was sent, that message was a trick. It's called 'phishing,' because scammers go fishing for information about you or your financial accounts. Once scammers have that, they can use that to commit identity theft or fraud.”;

The recording suggests contacting your financial institution if you're concerned about your account.

It also advises people to check the FTC Web site, onguardonline.gov, to find out how to protect themselves against phishing and identity theft.

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