Red Cross letter concerns Wichita woman

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WICHITA, Kan: -- An alleged mistake in a letter from the local Red Cross chapter has caused concern for a Wichita woman.

Michelle Crowell has donated blood and plasma often. But the email she received Wednesday asking her to donate blood puzzled her.

That's because she had already been informed by a letter from the Red Cross that she can't donate platelets any more. While part of the letter was accurate, important information was left out.

Crowell has a rare blood type, A-B Negative, that is in high demand. Crowell had been away in the military for years and recently moved back to Wichita. A couple of months ago she started donating again.

A couple of weeks later she received a letter saying she could no longer be a platelet donor because she had a rare antibody that could be harmful to potential recipients.

Then Crowell received an email Wednesday asking her to make an appointment to give blood. When she called the Red Cross, she said she was told the letter she received had been a mistake.

"We did a switch over to a new software", said the Red Cross Medical Director, Dr. Mei-Chien Fucci.. "It was a rollout that took quite a few months. And of course during that time we discovered glitches. And one of the glitches was that there were donors that were being deferred because of an answer to these questions being yes, female. They were being deferred rather erroneously. They were just being told sorry you can never donate blood with us", said Dr. Fucci.

Crowell said the mistake had not soured her on giving blood. And she hopes anyone who got a letter like she did will feel the same way.

Dr. Fucci said the letters were correct in telling people they cannot donate platelets again. But they can still donate blood which was left out of the letter. The software has been fixed.

A Red Cross representative said that the letter sent to Crowell was accurate in that she cannot donate platelets. She can, however, still donate whole blood, which, the representative said, was the purpose of the email: to encourage her to donate whole blood instead of platelets.

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