Skip to comments.(Early 70s) Poisoned blood left thousands to suffer unaided
Posted on 02/27/2002 11:17:39 PM PST by adanaC
Over 100 Factor 8 patients have died following their treatment. Many more will do so. Compensation to date: nothing
Antony Barnett and Tracy McVeigh
Sunday November 7, 1999
It was the mid-Seventies and Len Holmes thought his prayers had been answered.
For years he had been dogged by a painful tooth which he could not have taken out. Len suffered from a mild form of the incurable blood disease, haemophilia.
His blood lacked a vital clotting factor which meant surgery, including dental work, was potentially life-threatening because he could bleed to death. In the Seventies scientists came up with a product they believed would revolutionise the lives of people like Ken. Known as Factor 8, it was a concentrated form of the clotting factors missing in the blood of haemophiliacs.
It was made from thousands of donations of human blood plasma, the straw-coloured liquid that carries red and white cells through the veins. By mixing Factor 8 with sterile water and injecting it into a vein, the blood could be made to clot and bleeding would stop.
Len's wife, Jill, said: 'We thought it was a gift from God and Len could finally have his tooth taken out.'
But instead of being a life-saver, Factor 8 proved to be Len's death sentence. Last year, aged 60, he died in the grip of a liver cancer which can be traced directly to the Factor 8 he received after his dental operation.
The Factor 8 blood products the National Health Service was giving haemophiliacs during the Seventies and early Eighties were contaminated with the potentially lethal hepatitis C virus. At least 113 haemophiliacs have died from hepatitis C after receiving contaminated blood products from the NHS.
It is believed that 5,000 haemophiliacs treated with Factor 8 were infected. Current medical opinion is that four out of five of those infected will develop chronic liver disease, and a fifth will develop severe liver problems such as cirrhosis or liver cancer. It has been called one of the 'gravest treatment disasters in the history of the NHS'.
Ben Hardy, 17, does not know if he will see his thirtieth birthday. He is a severe haemophiliac who suffers spontaneous internal bleeding in his muscles and joints. If it is not stopped quickly he could end up crippled.
Ben was given his first contaminated Factor 8 injection in 1982 at only 10 months old. His mother, Jan, only found out he had hepatitis C in 1993 when a student doctor mentioned it in a routine check-up. So far Ben has shown no symptoms of advanced hepatitis C, but experts believe it can take 20 years for the symptoms to show. People like Ben face social problems, too.
Hepatitis C, like HIV, has become stigmatised. Like HIV, it is transmitted through blood and is common among drug users sharing dirty needles. It can also be sexually transmitted.
There are financial problems. Those with hepatitis C cannot get mortgages or life assurance: when symptoms become severe, most have to give up their jobs. Jan said: 'At some stage, Ben's father and I would like to think about retiring, but we might have to work for the rest of our lives to support Ben.'
Although the NHS was a key player in the tragedy, successive governments have refused to pay compensation, even though the Conservative government - after a legal challenge from the Haemophilia Society - agreed to set up an £80 million compensation scheme in 1990 for the 1,200 haemophiliacs who contracted HIV through bad blood products.
The society is demanding similar financial help for those infected with hepatitis C in the same way.
A tragic story of three brothers gives weight to the society's sense of injustice. All three brothers inherited haemophilia. Two of them were infected with HIV by contaminated blood products and died of Aids-related illnesses. They received help from the Macfarlane Trust, funded by the Government, and were able to make provision for their families.
The third brother escaped HIV infection but was infected with hepatitis C, also by contaminated NHS blood products, and died of liver failure. He got no financial help and went to his grave unable to make provision for his family.
The society's president, former Labour Minister and veteran campaigner Lord Morris, said: 'In none of the campaigns I have been closely involved in over 34 years in Parliament - even thalidomide and the campaign for statutory recognition of dyslexia - have I had so strong a sense that no campaigning should have been necessary to right so obvious a wrong.'
As the Opposition, Labour supported the campaign. An early-day motion in November 1995 calling for compensation for hepatitis C victims was signed by 233 MPs, including 16 Labour MPs who are now Ministers.
Among them were the new Health Secretary Alan Milburn, Health Minister John Denham, Sports Minister Kate Hoey, Trade Ministers Helen Liddell and Kim Howells, and Foreign Office Ministers Peter Hain and John Battle.
Unfortunately for the Haemophilia Society, the Labour Party appears to have had a change of heart. Last year the then Health Secretary, Frank Dobson, rejected the calls for compensation, saying that he considered the 'circumstances were different' for those haemophiliacs infected with hepatitis C and those infected with HIV. He said there was no proof the NHS had acted negligently.
For many victims this is hard to believe.
Indeed, The Observer has uncovered scientific papers in leading medical journals dating back to the early Seventies warning that Factor 8 would lead to the transmission of hepatitis C - then known as 'non Hep A-non Hep B'.
The main reason was that, since each phial of Factor 8 contained protein from thousands of donors, it was more likely to transmit blood diseases. This was particularly true in the US, where donors were given payment. The scandal of the so-called 'Skid Row' donors - many were drug users, alcoholics and prostitutes - was uncovered by World in Action in 1975.
The problem for British haemophiliacs is that the poor state of the British blood services and the growing demand for Factor 8 meant a lot of blood products used in Britain were imported from the US.
An article written by doctors in the Lancet in 1975 gave a warning that in a three-month period in 1974, nine out of 18 patients at the Bournemouth haemophilia centre became infected with hepatitis C.
Their conclusion then was: 'Commercial Factor 8 should be reserved for the treatment of life-threatening bleeds,' and 'should be reserved for severely affected haemophiliacs'. So why were those like Ken Holmes, with mild haemophilia, prescribed Factor 8? The World Health Organisation also warned the Labour Government of the time that, if the UK practice did not change, British haemophiliacs risked a hepatitis 'epidemic'.
The Observer has uncovered evidence that a treatment known to kill hepatitis in the blood was available in the early Seventies.
A distinguished US professor, Dr Frank Putnam, believes the knowledge that heating the blood would kill hepatitis was well known more than 30 years ago. For this reason, Germany ensured in 1979 that all its blood was heat-treated. Had this process been introduced in Britain at that time, hundreds of lives would have been saved.
Graham Ross is the solicitor who represented HIV victims and is now working with those suffering from hepatitis C. In the HIV claim, Ross won a Court of Appeal decision to gain access to confidential government documents. He is forbidden from making the contents of these documents public but has said that they indicate 'severe neglect'.
Arguments similar to Ross's have won support overseas. Governments in Ireland, Canada and Italy are now accepting their responsibility and are compensating haemophiliacs who have contracted hepatitis C through state-owned blood laboratories.
In just over two weeks' time, the Haemophilia Society will lay 113 white lilies at 10 Downing Street to re- mind the Prime Minister of those innocent British victims who have lost their lives to hepatitis C.
(Going to re-format computer soon. Not good.)
Didn't he, though. He had a great supply, underground, from perfect socialist sources: Cummins, Angola and other squalid prison farms of the South.
This article, like so many, attempts to blame the problem on for-pay donations. Those were bad, but they were a trickle compared to the truckloads of blood plasma pumped out of filthy prisons. And for-pay blood draws were not free-market enterprises but were made possible by regulation (blood shield laws). That let the fly-by-night operators act irresponsibly while remaining immune to lawsuits or prosecution.
I remain convinced that "free" blood donations are a bigger swindle than anything the petty crooks did in slums and border towns, and that the free market, policed by competition and open market practices -- with no regulatory protection -- should be the safest source of blood.
C.B.C. FIFTH ESTATE
FEBRUARY 3, 1976
THE FIFTH ESTATE.
GOOD EVENING I'M WARNER TROYER. TONIGHT WE MEET A NEW CANADIAN ENTREPRENEUR, THE BLOOD BROKER, AND SEE HOW HIS PRESENCE HAS INFLUENCED OUR PROUD TRADITION ON GIVING BLOOD.
Man: I've had complaints. I've had places where our donor clinics were set up in places where there's a concurrent advertising campaign by a plasma foresis centre. That does disturb us because our donors don't know what this means. And they say, "now look, we're not going to give to the Red Cross. We're going to go and get money for our blood."
WARNER: IT'S BANAL BUT TRUE: THERE'S NO MORE PRECIOUS LIQUID THAN HUMAN BLOOD. IN FACT IT'S BEEN RECOGNIZED THROUGHOUT HISTORY, PARTICULARLY THOSE WHO HAPPEN TO LOSE ANY OF THE FIVE LITERS WHICH BESTOWS ON ALL OF US. IT WASN'T UNTIL THE FIRST WORLD WAR THAT PIONEERS, INCLUDING CANADIAN DOCTOR OSWALD ROBERTSON, FOUND METHODS OF TRANSFUSING BLOOD FROM ONE PERSON TO ANOTHER, WHEN THAT HAPPENED, THE BLOOD IN OUR VEINS BECAME PRECIOUS NOT ONLY TO OURSELVES BUT TO OTHERS AS WELL. THE DEVELOPMENT OF BLOOD TRANSFUSIONS CREATED A NEW FIELD OF MEDICINE AND HELPS TO SAVE TENS OF THOUSANDS OF LIVES, BUT TRANSFUSION DID SOMETHING ELSE AS WELL. IT TURNED BLOOD INTO A COMMODITY, A PRODUCT THAT COULD BE BOUGHT AND SOLD. AND INTO THE MARKET PLACE CAME AND OLD CLICHE WITH A NEW MEANING, THE PHRASE "BLOOD MONEY". TONIGHT WE'RE GOING TO SHOW YOU SOMETHING OF ITS MEANING.
IF YOU WERE LOOKING FOR A METAPHOR IN CANADA FOR GOODNESS AND VIRTUE, IT'S JUST ABOUT AS CLOSE TO MOTHERHOOD AS YOU CAN GET. PEOPLE FREELY DONATING THEIR BLOOD TO HELP OTHER PEOPLE, OTHER PEOPLE WHO GET THAT BLOOD FOR FREE WHEN THEY NEED IT, AND ALL OF IT BEING SUPERVISED BY THE CANADIAN RED CROSS IN CAREFULLY REGULATED, CAREFULLY ORGANIZED CIRCUMSTANCES.
WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE CANADIAN SYSTEM OF GIVING BLOOD VOLUNTARILY AND FREELY AND THEN HAVING IT?
Woman: I think it's very good.
HOW ABOUT THE SYSTEM IN OTHER COUNTRIES WHERE BLOOD IS BOUGHT AND SOLD AND YOU GET PAID WERE YOU MAKE A DONATION, YOU HAVE TO PAY WHEN YOU NEED IT?
Woman: I think that takes a lot out of it. I wouldn't want to be paid to give my blood.
Woman: Ah, it's like the feeling of giving it away, you know, out of my own accord so that someone else, you know, may live.
Man: I think it is too important an item or a gift to be bought or sold, something that's very vital, very important and well, it's like probably happiness or joy or something. You don't just buy it. And I feel that way in relation to blood.
BUT IT ISN'T QUITE LIKE THAT EVERYWHERE, EVEN WHEN THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT IS INVOLVED WITH THE STORAGE AND THE PROCESSING OF OUR BLOOD AND PLASMA. THINGS AREN'T QUITE AS NON-COMMERCIAL AS MOST OF US WOULD PROBABLY LIKE TO BELIEVE.
THAT RATHER FEATURELESS INDUSTRIAL-LOOKING BLOCK OF BUILDINGS HERE ON THE OUTSKIRTS OF TORONTO HOUSES CONNAUGHT LABORATORIES, A FEDERALLY OWNED COMPANY WHICH PROCESSES RED CROSS PLASMA.
IN 1974, CONNAUGHT SECRETLY SOLD UP TO FIVE HUNDRED THOUSAND DOLLARS WORTH OF RED CROSS PLASMA ABROAD, FOR PROFIT, THE CONNAUGHT FOREIGN COMMERCIAL SALE WAS MADE WITHOUT THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE RED CROSS OR ITS VOLUNTEER DONORS. MOREOVER, IT WAS MADE AT THE TIME WHEN THE PLASMA , SERUM ALBUMIN, WAS IN CRITICALLY SHORT SUPPLY IN CANADIAN HOSPITALS. CONNAUGHT LABS MIGHT STILL BE SELLING PLASMA ABROAD, WORKING AS IT DOES AS A SUBSIDIARY OF THE CANADIAN DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION, TODAY. BUT UNFORTUNATELY FOR CONNAUGHT, THERE WAS A SLIPUP. DR.ANDREW MORIARITY, FORMER VISE-PRESIDENT OF CON LABS.
Dr.Moriarity: The Red Cross inadvertently found out that there had been substantial foreign shipments of serum albumin, at the very time when there was an acute shortage in this country. And this resulted in a showdown of some sorts between the two organizations.
THE RED CROSS FACED THE ACUTE EMBARRASSMENT OF BLOOD DONORS HEARD OF THE EXPORTS AT A TIME WHEN THEIR OWN ANNUAL REPORT SAID THERE WAS A CRITICAL SHORTAGE OF SERUM ALBUMIN IN CANADA. THE NEW MEDICAL DIRECTOR OF THE RED CROSS IN 1974, DR.ROGER PERRAULT, DESCRIBED WHAT HAPPENED.
DR.PERRAULT: Connaught Laboratories felt that they were in a position of surplus and coincidentally with that we were not in a surplus, the practice was ceased.
DR.PERRAULT'S ATTITUDE TO TRADING IN BLOOD IS NOT SURPRISING. WHAT IS SURPRISING IS THAT HIS PREDECESSOR, DR.GEORGE MILLER, WAS ACTUALLY MANAGER OF A BLOOD-BUYING COMPANY WHILE HE WAS THE MEDICAL DIRECTOR OF THE RED CROSS. DR.MILLER'S COMPANY, PLASMA FORESIS LABORATORY LIMITED, BOUGHT BLOOD FROM PEOPLE AT THE TORONTO EAST GENERAL HOSPITAL AND SOLD IT TO ORTHO, AFTER THE COMPANY WAS SET UP IN 1969. DR.MILLER ADMITTED THERE WAS A CONFLICT OF INTEREST AND SAID HE GAVE THE BUSINESS UP SHORTLY AFTER IT WAS STARTED.
DR.MILLER'S COMPANY WAS NOT DISSOLVED HOWEVER UNTIL AFTER HE RETIRED FROM THE RED CROSS A THE END OF 1973 TO BECOME A PAID CONSULTANT TO CONNAUGHT LABORATORIES, THE COMPANY WHICH SOLD RED CROSS DONATION MATERIAL ABROAD. THE PRESENT MEDICAL DIRECTOR OF THE RED CROSS, DR.ROGER PERRAULT AND HIS STAFF, SHARE THE VIEWS OF THOSE DONORS, AND NOT SURPRISINGLY, THE PLASMA MATERIAL WHICH CONNAUGHT SOLD CAME FROM A STOCKPILE OF DONATIONS BUILT UP BETWEEN 1970 AND 1974. IT WAS TAKEN FROM DONORS IN PLACES LIKE OTTAWA, AND IT ENDED UP IN THE VEINS OF SOUTH KOREANS, WEST GERMANS, AND ANYONE ELSE WHO WAS PREPARED TO PAY FOR IT. THE RED CROSS WAS PAID ROYALTIES ON THE SALE OF HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS WORTH OF PLASMA ABROAD UNDER AN ARRANGEMENT WHICH PERMITS CONNAUGHT TO SELL PLASMA OVERSEAS IF THERE'S NO SHORTAGE IN CANADA. OFFICIALS IN OTTAWA WHO COULD HAVE STOPPED THE FOREIGN SALES DID NOTHING ABOUT THEM.
DR.BERT LISTON OF THE FEDERAL HEALTH PROTECTION BRANCH.
Dr.Bert Liston: The Food and Drugs Act excludes material for export. So, in effect we advise them whether the material is safe. And then what they do with it afterwards in terms of sale or the market that they look for is effectively is a decision that that corporation takes.
SINCE THAT INTERVIEW WAS FILMED, THE MINISTER OF HEALTH AND WELFARE, MARK LALONDE HAS ANNOUNCED THE GOVERNMENTS INTENTION TO CONTROL BLOOD EXPORTS LIKE CONNAUGHT.
WHEN THE GOVERNMENT-OWNED CONNAUGHT LABORATORIES SOLD RED CROSS BLOOD ABROAD, THEY BRIEFLY USED ONE OF THE WORLD'S LEADING BLOOD BROKERS AS THEIR AGENT
HIS NAME IS TOM HECHT AND HE OPERATES OUT OF MONTREAL. HECHT IS UNKNOWN TO THE GENERAL PUBLIC BUT HE IS AN IMPORTANT FIGURE IN THE INTERNATIONAL BLOOD TRADE. HECHT RUNS A COMPANY CALLED CONTINENTAL PHARMA WHICH OPERATES OUT OF A FINE SUITE OF OFFICES IN THIS BUILDING ON SHERBROOKE STREET WEST IN MONTREAL. IN A SINGLE YEAR, HECHT HAS HANDLED UP TO SIX HUNDRED THOUSAND PINTS OF BLOOD PLASMA. THAT'S AS MUCH AS THE ENTIRE RED CROSS TRANSFUSION SUPPLY TO ALL CANADIANS. CURRENTLY, TOM HECHT IS BUYING BLOOD FROM BOGOTA, COLUMBIA. A PRACTICE CONDEMNED BY THE WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION. IN 1973, MEMBER STATES CALLED ON GOVERNMENTS EVERYWHERE TO STOP THE INTERNATIONAL BLOOD TRAFFIC. BLOOD BROKERS, THEY SAID, WHERE BUYING BLOOD FOR AS LITTLE AS FOUR DOLLARS A LITRE IN POOR COUNTRIES AND WELLING IT FOR FIVE TIMES THAT AMOUNT IN DEVELOPED COUNTRIES.
PROF. HASSECK, CONSULTANT TO W.H.O.
PROF. HASSECK: I think this blood drain from developing countries to developed countries, this should be stopped. It's a shame for us in the northern world to take blood from these people. There is an exploitation of pure human beings. In these countries, alcoholism, undernourished people, sometimes drug addicts come into plasma foresis. They made a living. So I think plasma foresis shouldn't be done in developing countries.
HECHT SAYS THE BLOOD HE BUYS FROM COLUMBIA IS GOOD STUFF, ALTHOUGH HE HAS NEVER BEEN TO BOGOTA. HE SAYS HE DOES NOT KNOW THE NAMES OF THE PEOPLE WHO ARE DRAWING THE BLOOD OR THE CLINIC WHERE IT'S BEING TAKEN, NOR DOES HE KNOW THE NAMES OF THE PEOPLE WHO ARE SELLING THEIR BLOOD OR HOW MUCH THEY'RE BEING PAID. BUT EVERY SIX WEEKS, A CARGO OF BLOOD PLASMA ARRIVES IN MONTREAL FROM COLUMBIA ABOARD A DELTA AIRLINES PLANE. IN MONTREAL, THE PLASMA IS PLACED IN BOND, IT SITS REFRIGERATED. THIS REFRIGERATED CONTAINER, TO AWAIT A SUITABLE CUSTOMER. HECHT CAN USE CANADA AS A BASE FOR HIS BLOOD BROKERING OPERATIONS BECAUSE CANADIAN REGULATIONS LET HIM GET AWAY WITH IT. INDIA, INDONESIA, THE PHILIPPINES, MEXICO, EVEN LITTLE BOTSWANA HAVE BANNED THE TRAFFIC. HERE IN CANADA THERE'S STILL A LOOPHOLE.
Dr.Liston: If you were a import-export broker, it is conceivable that you could have material landed at an airport and turn around and never have it actually enter into Canada officially if it stays in bond.
DOES THAT MEAN THAT THAT RATHER ENVIOUS REPUTATION THAT CANADA HAS ABROAD FOR PURE FOOD, FOR SAFE DRUGS CAN IN FACT BE USED PRETTY EASILY AS AN UMBRELLA BY SOMEONE WHO WANTS TO EXPORT MATERIAL TO OTHER COUNTRIES?
Dr.Liston: It is conceivable that a company that wished to do that would do so.
HECHT'S BLOOD GOES TO EUROPE WHERE THE ULTIMATE CUSTOMERS HAVE NO WAY OF KNOWING IT CAME FROM AN UNDERDEVELOPED COUNTRY. A GOOD DEAL OF IT GOES TO ZURICH, WHICH IS AT THE CENTRE OF THE GLOBAL BLOOD TRAFFIC. WHEN THE BLOOD FINALLY LEAVES THIS BONDED WAREHOUSE, IT TRAVELS TO ITALY, WEST GERMANY AND ELSEWHERE. DR.N.LOTHA OF THE WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION ON BLOOD TRAFFIC.
Dr. N.Lotha: We assume that the blood would ultimately go to the big manufacturers or to any manufacturers of blood derivatives.
WELL, IS ANY OF THAT BLOOD LIKELY TO GO TO CANADA? IS IT LIKELY TO END UP IN THE VEINS OF CANADIANS AND PATIENTS WHO ARE ILL AND NEED BLOOD?
Dr. Lothian: I don't know for certain, but if you buy from international firms, it is quite possible.
TOM HECHT WAS NOT THE ONLY BLOOD BROKER TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF CANADIAN REGULATIONS. IN JANUARY OF 1974, TWO AMERICAN BROKERS, JOHN FRANCIS BURNS AND HAROLD STEARIN CAME TO THIS COTE DE L'QUEST WAREHOUSE NEAR DORVAL AIRPORT IN MONTREAL. BURNS HAD USED A LABORATORY ESSEX BIOLOGICS, IN NEW JERSEY TO EXPORT BLOOD, UNTIL IT WAS CLOSED DOWN BY THE NEW JERSEY HEALTH AUTHORITIES. DR.MARTIN GOLDFIELD OF THE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH EXPLAINS WHY.
Dr.Goldfield: We found evidence of systematic over bleeding of all of the patients, taking far more than is legally permissible in New Jersey-or anywhere else in the country, for that matter- from each individual patient in each individual city. They falsified the records of the volume and bleeding records, but when we actually observed their bills of lading and their sales, we determined that they were indeed over-bleeding very significantly.
IN MONTREAL, NO HEALTH INSPECTOR INTERFERED AS BURNS AND STEARIN TRANSFERRED BLOOD FROM BAGS TO BOTTLES WITH ONLY A CAN OF AIR FRESHENER AS PROTECTION AGAINST CONTAMINATION. THE BLOOD, WHICH STEARIN AND BURNS BROUGHT TO MONTREAL, WAS EVENTUALLY EXPORTED TO SWITZERLAND, SPAIN AND WEST GERMANY UNDER THE LABEL OF THEIR CANADIAN COMPANY, SHERWOOD IMPORT EXPORT LTD. WHEN BURNS AND STEARIN CLOSED THEIR BUSINESS IN MID-1975, THEY DROPPED OFF THE LAST OF THEIR PLASMA IN THE PUBLIC DUMP IN MONTREAL. AN EYE-WITNESS TOLD US OF BLOOD PLASMA DRIPPING FROM THE GARBAGE TRUCK AS IT DROVE OFF FROM THE COTE DE L'OUEST. DR. LINTON, FOR THE PAST TWO YEARS THERE HAVE BEEN SOME PEOPLE WHO HAVE BEEN BRINGING PLASMA INTO MONTREAL, TAKING IT OUT OF BAGS, PUTTING IT INTO BOTTLES IN WAREHOUSE AND THEN RESHIPPING, EXPORTING FROM MONTREAL, TAKING IT OUT OF BOND BUT SHIPPING IT OUT OF THE COUNTRY AGAIN. YOU'VE NO CONTROL OVER THAT? NO WAY OF STOPPING THAT? OR INSPECTING THAT?
Dr.Linton: If the material, as you suggest in this case, is destined for export, then the firm may, under section 32, fill out an export permit in which they advise us that the material will not be sold in Canada and therefore obtain an exemption from the application under the regulations.
BUT AS WITH CONNAUGHT LABORITORIES, YOU WOULD HAVE NO AUTHORITY TO SAY " THAT STUFF ISN'T GOOD ENOUGH". YOU CAN'T EXPORT IT?
Dr.Linton: That's correct.
SO, IN FACT, THERE IS NO AUTHORITY.
Dr.Linton: There is no authority over material that is destined for export.
CANADIANS KNOWLEDGE OF THE BLOOD TRADE, SLIGHT AS IT IS, USUALLY COMES FROM THE UNITED STATES WHERE COMMERCIAL BUYING OF BLOOD HAS BEEN A LONG TRADITION AND WHERE IT'S RECEIVED A LOT OF UNFAVORABLE PUBLICITY. IN RECENT YEARS, THE AMERICANS HAVE TIGHTENED THEIR REGULATIONS TO CONTROL THE ABUSES. NEVERTHELESS, SOME OF THOSE ABUSES EXIST IN SOME AREAS. MOST CANADIANS MIGHT FEEL THE EXCESSES OF THE UNITED STATES COULDN'T HAPPEN HERE BECAUSE WE DON'T HAVE A COMMERCIAL BLOOD TRAFFIC. WELL, WE MAY NOT HAVE THE SAME EXCESSES, BUT WE DO HAVE A BLOOD TRADE. HERE IN THIS BUILDING ON EGLINGTON AVENUE IN TORONTO, FOR EXAMPLE, THERE'S A THRIVING LITTLE BUSINESS CALLED CANADIAN BIO PLASMA. THEY BUY BLOOD, YOUR IF YOU PREFER TO SELL IT, FOR FIFTEEN BUCKS A SHOT. THEY USE A SYSTEM CALLED PLASMA FORESIS. THEY DRAW OFF YOUR BLOOD, RETURN THE RED CELLS TO YOU AND KEEP THE PLASMA. CANADIAN RED CROSS SAYS THERE ARE AS MANY AS TEN SUCH CENTRES ACROSS THE COUNTRY. CANADIAN BIO PLASMA DRAWS BLOOD FROM ITS PAID DONORS AS OFTEN AS TWICE A WEEK. MOST OF THOSE DONORS ARE STUDENTS ATTRACTED BY ADS IN THE UNIVERSITY NEWSPAPERS. SOME HAVE BEEN SELLING BLOOD TO CANADIAN BIO PLASMA TWICE A WEEK FROM AS FAR BACK AS LAST MAY. CLIFF AMES IS ONE STUDENT WHO SOLD BLOOD THERE, CLIFF, HOW DID YOU FIRST HEAR OF CANADIAN BIO PLASMA?
Cliff Ames: Well, a friend of mine at York University mentioned to me that if I was a little sort of money, Canadian Bio Plasma gave fifteen dollars for a certain quantity of blood. At the same time I was interested but, during the summer, I suppose my curiosity got the better of me, plus I needed the fifteen dollars. So I decided to take a look and see what it was all about. And so, on a Thursday, I came down and they took a finger swab. My blood pressure. And then they put me on a couch and took two pints of blood. It was done very professionally and the physical and psychological unpleasantness isn't really compensated by a fifteen dollar cheque, I felt, for myself any ways.
NOW, IF I GO TO ONE OF THESE CENTRES AND THEY MAKE AN ARRANGEMENT WITH ME TO PAY ME THIRTY DOLLARS A WEEK AND TAKE A COUPLE OF DONATIONS EVERY WEEK, WHAT PROBLEM DO I HAVE IN TERMS OF THE SAFETY OF THE PROCEDURE WHICH THEY'RE USING, THE RISKS OF INFECTION, OF BEING SURE THEY DON'T TAKE TOO MUCH BLOOD, THAT KIND OF THING?
Man: At the present time, the Food and Drug regulations do not apply to those circumstances. You will recognize that this is an arrangement, a contractual arrangement, between you as an individual and that company.
SO, IN THE PAST, AND AT PRESENT, THERE'S NO INSPECTION, NO REGULATION OF PLACES THAT BUY PLASMA FROM PEOPLE?
Man: No. They do not come under the auspices or the perview of the Food and Drug regulations. You must recognize that this is a relatively new industry that has been presently, I guess, springing up.
CANADIAN BIO PLASMA IS OWNED BY THE U.S. DRUG FIRM ORTHO, WHO SAY THEY USE THE BLOOD IN THEIR OWN LABORATORIES. COMPETITION FROM BLOOD BUYING OPERATORS IS A CONCERN TO THE RED CROSS AS DR.PERRAULT EXPLAINS.
Dr.Perrault: It does disturb our donor recruitment to a significant degree, And I've had complaints. I've had places where our donor clinics were set-up in places where there's a concurrent advertising campaign by a plasma foresis centre. And that does disturb us because our donors don't know what this means. They say, "Now look. We're not going to give to the Red Cross: we're going to go and get money for our blood.
IT WAS 1973 WHEN THE CANADIAN HEMOPHILIAC SOCIETY ASKED HEALTH MINISTER, MARK LALONDE, TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT THE BLOOD TRADE IN CANADA. IT'S NOW EARLY 1976. NOTHING HAS BEEN ONE YET BUT MR.LALONDE HAS NOW SAID THERE ARE GOING TO BE SOME CONTROLS AT SOME POINT IN THE FUTURE. NOT WHAT YOU'D CALL VERY PROMPT ACTION.
[THE PLASMA MATERIAL WHICH CONNAUGHT SOLD CAME FROM A STOCKPILE OF DONATIONS BUILT UP BETWEEN 1970 AND 1974] Actually that blood came back to BC Canada to be used in hospitals.
Is that a drum roll, BigM? :-)
By the State?
Yeah. I suppose that speaks well of your media. Ours don't have to be muzzled. They muzzle themselves. As soon as they find out that Bill and Hillary Clinton were involved, they walk out. If anyone mentions Vincent Foster's role in the scheme, they run.
Honorable exception: Christian Broadcasting Network ran a two-part expose produced by Dale Hurd.
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