Red Cross calls extra calling a glitch

Yelena Kibasova

Holly Hagan first donated blood last semester when the Red Cross bloodmobile came to the University.

Since then, the first-year nursing student has received one to three phone calls a week from the Red Cross, asking her to donate again.

Hagan said she hopes the multiple phone calls aren’t intentional. The Red Cross reports that the calls in fact are not intentional but are a result of a glitch in the organization’s new phone system.

“The reason that some students are getting too many phone calls is because we’ve had a system change here in the Red Cross,” said Susan Kluesner, public relations associate for North Central Blood Services of the American Red Cross.

Hagan said she didn’t think the Red Cross should be calling so much.

“It’s just very aggravating,” she said.

Kluesner said the North Central Blood Services of the American Red Cross apologizes for the mistake.

“We are trying to track those complaints and change the system so people are not bothered too much,” she said.

The Red Cross staff makes the phone calls to remind past volunteers to donate again, Kluesner said.

Previously, the Red Cross had people calling donors, getting to know them and reminding them to donate again.

But as of late 2005, North Central Blood Services switched to a mechanical system.

The system, which Kluesner called a “predictive dialer,” is loaded with a list of phone numbers. The system automatically calls one number at a time until someone picks up. Then a Red Cross staff member speaks to the individual.

North Central Blood Services is using this new system because it is a better use of resources and more cost-effective, she said.

“We are aware that it is not working properly,” she said. “We apologize for any inconvenience and are working on getting the system working.”

While some are affected by the problem, other blood donors are not.

Max de Groen, a finance and marketing junior, has also donated to the Red Cross and called himself “one of the lucky ones” who was not affected by the glitch.

“The phone calls are not harassing at all,” de Groen said.

The Red Cross calls de Groen once every eight weeks or so because that is the minimum waiting time between donations, he said.

Kluesner said the wait period is 56 days between donations and that the period is a Food and Drug Administration requirement.

“That’s with everyone; they set that limit so your body has time to replace all the red cells,” she said.

Only 5 percent of those eligible to donate blood actually do, she said. The Red Cross calls past donors because they are reliable, she said.

“Currently, we have less than a one-day (blood) supply,” Kluesner said.

The organization has a shortage of A-negative, O-negative and B-negative blood, she said.

“We’re not Cub (Foods)… our shelves aren’t always stocked,” Kluesner said.

The demand for blood is pretty constant, she said, with a slight incline as the population ages.

Hospitals such as the University Medical Center, Fairview, also use a lot of blood for procedures such as organ transplantations.

“Students at the “U’ are so important because the need is never going to go away,” Kluesner said.