Anyone considering donating plasma to Talecris: Dont do it!
I answered an ad for new donors to help save lives with Talecris plasma center in Saint Paul, MN. I was told that new donors needed to bring a drivers license and their social securitys card along so they could verify I was a US citizen and that they would perform a physical on me before I could donate plasma. I was told that the entire process usually took around 2 hours for the first donation and subsequent visits normally were 1 to 1 hours after the first visit. The front office clerk looked at my drivers license which is issued from Wisconsin and then said wait a minute and she disappeared for a few minutes and then she returned and she handed back my drivers license and Social Security card. Little did I know that the office clerk had gone to the back to copy all of my personal information. I did not authorize her to photocopy this information. I thought that Talecris just needed to verify my information.
I arrived at 8:30 AM on the morning of Wednesday March 6th. There was only one person waiting in front of me when I arrived. I sat for the next 55 minutes waiting to be screened while more than a dozen more people came in over the next 45 minutes and sat down in the front waiting area. Hardly a first come first served business. Why do they have a sign-up sheet and appointment system? The folks waiting to donate looked like they had few options. It reminded me of the unemployment line that I faced 25 years earlier.
One by one all of the awaiting donors were corralled, like cattle and told to go to specific numbered rooms. They finally called my name when there was only one other person left waiting. The other person was a first
time donor too and he had arrived 20 minutes after me. I then was asked to review Talecris policys on donating plasma and was handed a green notebook to read. The examining girl then pulled a digital camera out of her desk and asked me to smile that she was taking my photo.
The examiner then told me to hold up my hands so she could put an invisible dye on my right pinky finger. She said that it would wear off within two weeks. I was then asked to roll up my sleeves and she proceeded to check my blood pressure. Next she tested my blood with a finger p***k device. I was then asked to go back to the front seating area where I would wait another 45 minutes to have another nurse check me out. The nurse asked me to remove my shirt and thermal shirt that I was wearing so she could listen to my lungs. I felt a bit violated having a female do this but figured I would comply since I felt I was nearly through their process of screening. Had this been a male nurse, how many women would have taken their shirts of for a male nurse to examine them?
The nurse said that my breathing was good and the next thing for me to do was to take a urine exam. There was no mention of this in the ad that I replied to but once again I complied with the nurses request and I went to the bathroom and left her a sample. A few minutes later the nurse came back and said that my urine was clean. I was then asked to go sit in the back in another waiting area and about 10 minutes later a nurse came and led me to one of the donation chairs and told me that once I was hooked up that it would take 45-60 minutes normally. The staff employees that I encountered in the back area were nice and accommodating. It took just 45 minutes for the plasma machine to complete.
I was then encouraged to schedule my next donation for two days later before I left the clinic. I scheduled my next donation for Friday at 7:00 AM on 3/8/2013. I arrived at 6:50 AM and I was the first donor in the waiting area. At 6:55 AM a clerk brought out a sign-in sheet. I was the first donor to sign this list and then once again I waited 50 minutes while I watched another 12-14 other donors come in between 7:00-7:45 AM. Most of these people waited 5 to 15 minutes before they were called. When I was finally called I asked the examiner why when I was the first one there this morning and I was scheduled on their computer system for 7:00 AM that I had to wait 55 minutes? The examiner said that the delay was due to a computer glitch
associated with my file. Right. I did not believe this nonsense for a second!
The examiner then opened a folder and to my surprise had photo copies of my drivers license and social security card and a color picture of me that they had taken two days before. I was then asked to hold out my hands while the examiner used the ultra violet dye on my fingernail again. The examiner then proceeded to take my blood pressure and stick a corded digital thermometer in my mouth. I wondered if this utensil had been properly cleaned after each use. My blood pressure was reported to be a little higher than the acceptable amount so she said that she would have to defer me from donating for a little while. She suggested that they could try it again in 10-15 minutes which I agreed to wait and try it once again, but is was still a little higher than their maximum limit.
The second examiner was an older middle aged lady with short black hair and she was much nicer to deal with and we talked a little bit about my experience with Talecris. She suggested that I could reschedule and come back the next day and try again. I informed her that I lived more than 20 miles one way from the plasma center and that I really couldnt afford to come back and forth without knowing if I would be able to donate. I told her that maybe I wasnt the best candidate for plasma donation and that I was done.
I enquired in regards to my personal information. She said that they would keep it confidentially forever, that it was the law. I asked her if she knew if it was a Minnesota state law or federal law. She replied I do not know, but if I wanted to speak with the manager here I could have him talk to you. I just couldnt wait any longer and who knows how long it might be before I would get a chance to talk to the Talecris manager.
I can understand if I was a current donor why they would want my personal data on hand if it is a Minnesota or federal law like they claim. Since I will not be a donor with them any longer and I want to protect my identity and personal information. I do not want Talecris, retaining my records for eternity. It appeared that most of the staff had access to the computers with all of the donors personal information on them. It takes just one disgruntled employee to steal all the identities on their computer and sell it to the highest bidder. Even if they have good intentions and internal security in place to protect my information, their computer system could easily be compromised and my personal information could be stolen and spread over the internet.
I am warning everyone that I can. Do NOT donate to Talecris . All of the employees that you are sent to during your visit will ask you for your name and your last 4 digits of your social security number repeatedly while they corral you around their facility. Why dont they make each donor their own card with their information and photo on it? What a concept!
I really dislike big companies that make Billions of dollars preying on and violating the poor, the needy and the afflicted and steal their personal information for a mere $40.00 or less.