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The Gift of Gono

April 25, 2011

The notice came in a simple white envelope not unlike one you might receive from your friendly banker. The return address label indicated the letter was from the Red Cross.

I wasn’t too intrigued by the source of the letter since I’m a long-time blood donor. As I sat down to eat my lunch, I opened the letter – not expecting anything unusual.

And, it started out like any other formal letter. But, my lackadaisical attention took an immediate u-turn.

“Our preliminary test on your donated blood indicates you have tested positive for “gonorrhea”.

I did a quick double-take. Yep, I read it correctly. The Red Cross was saying I had the Gift of Gono.

Now, being a paramedic I do know that you can’t get gonorrhea from a tractor seat, or a public toilet. So, the question was, “How did I acquire this bacterial scourge and why wasn’t I exhibiting any of the dandy symptoms – burning urination, discharge from the penis?”

And, if one hasn’t participated in the type of activity that leads to this disease, then you’d normally look at your partner – normally. Knowing my wife, like I know my wife, there was a better chance that I acquired Gono from a toilet seat.

So, after telling my wife to stay clear of me for the near future, I decided to give my friends at the Red Cross a call.

The first representative passed me to the next; and that person to the next; and so forth – until I was speaking with an MD. I know she was up there on the chain of command because she could actually discuss my medical case without violating HIPPA law.

The good doctor explained to me that it wasn’t at all unusual for Red Cross blood donors to get a false positive result on the preliminary test. I asked that if this were the case might it be prudent to perform a second test before sending such a notice to a donor. She explained that the Red Cross had determined that conducting secondary tests would cost too much. You know – the bottom line.

The doctor said she empathized with me, but explained it could’ve been worse. I could’ve been one of those who received a false positive HIV Aids report.

One of the most important values of any business is Caring. Since this story took place a number of years ago, I hope the Red Cross has corrected their problem. But, it does highlight how far they strayed from caring for their customers.

How do you show your customers that you care for them and who do you involve in those decisions?

If you rely on your bean counters you might end up giving your customer the Gift of Gono.

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