Dr. Hugo Marx opened a blood bank in downtown Fort Worth. Plasma Fractions the sign said on the building and winos, dope addicts, and other street dwellers were paid for their plasma.
The county coroner wanted him stopped but Dr. Marx danced around the law. “He is preying on other’s misfortune,” my father grumbled. One unfortunate was a customer, a mentally challenged man named Charlie.
Charlie’s complexion was pale and he barely had the energy to push the side door open at Burger & Shake. My father remarked to me later that he had seen more color in a corpse. Charlie mentioned he was going there between two to three times a week and showed us a contract. My father offered Charlie a free meal in trade for the paper.
“It’s unlawful to enter into a contract with a mentally challenged person,” my father explained. The contract was forwarded to the public health authorities. A newspaper article covered the investigation of the operation. Plasma Fractions was fined, and the article gave a medical professional’s advice on the danger of giving blood too often: once a month is safe, it said.
Plasma Fractions was not shut down but the Coroner sent word to my father he was pleased with his action. A sign was placed in their lobby warning donors of the dangers of giving blood. The donors had to be screened and they gave Charlie a job, emptying the trash during the day and helping the janitor at night. It was only a few hours a day and weekends off.
A few weeks later my father and I were driving home from a day at Burger & Shake. “Well Dad,” I began, “We didn’t get it shut down.”
“No son, “ laughed my father, “But we did put a few dents in the operation.”
published 10 July 2013