Over 3,000 lives lost because of blood bungle by Canadian Red Cross

The Canadian Red Cross has pleaded guilty to distributing contaminated blood supplies. Since getting the tainted blood in the 1980s thousands of Canadians with HIV and hepatitis C were infected and more than 3,000 people have died.

The public health disaster is one of the worst in Canadian history.

As part of a deal with prosecutors charges of criminal negligence could possibly be dropped.

In a video-taped message shown in court, Dr Duplessis, the head of the Canadian Red Cross, said the Red Cross accepted responsibility for distributing harmful products to those that relied on the charity, and for the first time he has apologised to the victims and their families.

Over 1,000 people became infected with HIV and as many as 20,000 others contracted hepatitis C through blood transfusions and blood products and the Red Cross has finally accepted responsibility for their part in the tainted blood tragedy.

John Plater, Canadian Hemophilia Society says many of the victims were haemophiliacs.

Speaking for the Canadian Hemophilia Society (CHS), Mike McCarthy asks how anyone can be satisfied when thousands of people lost their lives and many more are living with these fatal viruses today.

McCarthy says the result does not represent a great outcome for anybody who has gone through the tainted-blood scandal.

John Plater, Ontario president of the CHS, says accepting responsibility is the least the Red Cross can do for their part in the tainted blood tragedy, for the sake of victims who have waited two decades for someone to be held accountable.

A 1997 public inquiry strongly criticised the Canadian Red Cross, which had run the country's blood supply system for decades and as a result, the Red Cross was stripped of this role and was replaced by a government agency.

The blood scandal also led to several lawsuits against the Red Cross and it is only after years of legal wrangling that the charity has decided to plead guilty to distributing the contaminated blood.

The Red Cross says it will donate C$1.5m ($1.2m) towards medical research and educational scholarships.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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