Blood Infected blood plot Hepatitis C Australia
Tainted Blood Product Action Group of NSW
To: SENATE COMMUNITY AFFAIRS REFERENCES COMMITTEE INQUIRY INTO HEPATITIS C AND BLOOD SUPPLY IN AUSTRALIA
" In 1996 CSL admitted that it had mixed Australian blood with blood from several foreign countries for distribution in Australia.
• ‘Australia has imported blood products from companies that are known to have dealt in US prison blood. They have dealt in material that was manufactured using blood plasma sourced from US Prison inmates, many of whom were infected with HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis C’.
• The Australian Red Cross collected blood from Australian prisons. Disturbing information has been obtained that the Australian Red Cross collected blood from Australian prison inmates. A ‘whistle blower’ knew of inmates that had donated blood to the Australian Red Cross. They knew of a former Red Cross Blood Service worker who recalled that mobile blood collection units were sent to Australian prisons.
• What is essential here is that blood donor screening relies on the honesty of the donor in answering screening questions. It is hard to understand how the Australian Red Cross could decide to place a system based on honesty, with life-and-death repercussions like blood donation, inside a prison. Scientific and medical knowledge in the 1970s was advanced enough to understand the threat of hepatitis and the increased dangers of encouraging and accepting blood donations from prison inmates.
• The Australian Red Cross knowingly collected blood from IV drug users.
• Lookback is a tracing program that tracks contaminated blood. It is a multi-million dollar cooperative undertaken by the Australian Red Cross Blood Service (ARCBS) and the state health departments. A disturbing result of a recent survey was that 81% of the respondents had never been officially contacted nor offered any medical or support services by the ARCBS.
• Members of TBPAG know that their criticisms in media interviews of the blood service are all too frequently countered by blood service press releases claiming chronic shortages in the blood supply. It is the view of members of TBPAG that this is a convenient and dishonest strategy utilized by the blood service to counter their concerns about the Hepatitis C issue. TPBAG is of the view, which is reflected by blood services around the world, that the safety and availability of the blood supply are not mutually exclusive positions. TBPAG believes that blood donation is extremely important. Blood donors are true life savers.
• The deliberate and unfeeling denial of the Hepatitis C contamination issue by the Australian Red Cross was fully realised in a pivotal statement made on ABC radio on July 1 2002, by the chairman of the donor and product safety committee of the Australian Red Cross Blood Service, Tony Keller. He responded to the Hepatitis C controversy surrounding the blood service’s policy of deliberately mixing donations from infected donors into the blood supply in 1990 by saying: “Nobody knew what the hepatitis C virus was or what it did.” One would expect that such acknowledged ignorance would have warranted a careful, rather than a complacent approach.
• The studies conducted by the Australian Red Cross into surrogate testing need to be made public. It is only then that a perceived culture of secrecy can give way to the admirable, but as yet unrealised, objectives set out in the ARCBS’s own mission statement: transparency and accountability.
• In the last three decades thousands of Australian hospital patients have been infected with the deadly virus Hepatitis C from contaminated blood transfusions and blood products. Victims of this tragedy include adults, children, accident victims, the sick, the anaemic, pregnant women, and those having had elective surgery. They have not been isolated to the acutely ill who would have died without an urgent transfusion. While this is a medical disaster, it is in essence, first and foremost, a human tragedy that has destroyed the lives of many men, women and children." 4
© Charles MacKenzie, TBPAG, 2003