About two weeks ago, I went to give blood for the Red Cross. It had been at least five years since I had last given blood and there was really no excuse for that. The Red Cross had a few rooms in another building in our complex and I made an appointment to give some blood.
When I got there, they asked for my donor card. I had no idea where it was, but that didn’t faze them. They could look me up in the computer. I gave them my name, date of birth, and Social Security number. And that’s when the fun began.
After entering in that data into their computer, I was flagged as being in-eligible for giving blood. Forever. And forever is a mighty long time. I was given a form letter that included an 800 number that would provide more details. Due to HIPAA restrictions, the staff at the Red Cross station could not tell me why I had been banned.
So I called that 800 number and talked to a Red Cross representative. It turns out that there is another Christopher Miller with the same date of birth as me, but living half way across the country. He has an illness that has banned him from ever donating blood.
Because we have the same name and birth date, when my data is entered in the local Red Cross database, they hit his record in the national registry. And they don’t look at the SSN number.
The fun continues. Back at the 800 number, I was told that the only way I can give blood is to not use my Red Cross donor card and never give out my SSN. Without the SSN, they don’t check the national database.
That’s the mind-boggling part. They don’t check the national database unless I provide a SSN, but if I provide a SSN they wont use it to filter out other people with the same name and birth date. That’s just wrong.