Haemophilia Holocaust: A Review By Mrs Vera West
I have just finished reading Haemophilia Holocaust: A Story of Medical and Bureaucratic Denial, Incompetence and Corruption, (Updated edition, 2020), by Dr Richard Davis, and it is a gripping read. The book deals with the not-well publicised issue of the contamination of the Australian blood supply, leading to 8,000 Australians being infected with Hepatitis C and 2,500 with HIV. However, Australia’s Tainted Blood Action Group, believes that up to 20,000 Australians were infected, making this a “holocaust” (p. v)
Contaminated blood issues occurred in many other countries, including China, where it apparently is still a problem. In the US, there were settlements of $ 100,000 each for haemophiliacs who were infected. The main issue was the importation of foreign plasma, which was contaminated, much of it coming from prison populations, notorious for blood-borne infections. While the issue has been dealt with overseas, no major review of the tainted blood issue has occurred in Australia (p. viii) This is shocking since up to 50 percent of haemophiliacs had been infected with HIV.
Why did it happen? “Immoral pharmaceutical companies buying and selling infected blood products caused massive problems. Wealthy pharmaceutical companies incentivised doctors with money, gifts and holidays and influenced haemophilia foundations with generous donations. Bribery and dishonesty occurred on an industrial scale in many nations where blood and blood products were managed by commercial companies” (p. x). I could not help thinking that this is like the vaccination situation, and will do a review of that in another article. Governments knew that there were risks associated with the blood supply at the time, but the necessary screening was not done (p.1).
The issue is also hard to investigate because victims have signed secrecy agreements which function to keep a lid on things, thus burying “institutional wrongdoing.” Further, many patients received contaminated blood died within a year so “no-one knows how many Australians died from the tainted blood disaster” (p.2) They took their evidence to the grave.
Specifically, the main contamination problem was from Factor VIII, plasma-derived concentrate, made from the pooled plasma of thousands of donors. This was equivalent to having “unprotected sex with thousands of people” (p.4).
Political correctness also had a large part to play. The debate back in 1983 at the time of the AIDS crisis about the safety of the blood supply (pp. 11-12), led to political resistance to banning high-risk donors (p. 13), and the medical establishment, as usual, backed this up, with most bodies proclaiming that the blood supply was safe (p. 14). The book gives a long list of these authorities (pp. 14-15), and they said this even though overseas evidence at the time contradicted it (p. 16).
The book touches on topics that should be followed up, such as a potential medical witness who had a mysterious death, not much else is said, so there must be a deep layer of dirt there (p.24). Any crime investigator journalists out there?
The contaminated blood issue continued into the 1990s and 2000s, with the author concluding: “The safest medical practice is to minimise all blood transfusions” (p. 47) After reading this, the last thing I want is a blood transfusion! The Australian government rejected paying compensation (p.53), which leads to the sense of righteous moral outrage by Dr Davis. He recommends a Senate Review, or Royal Commission, which is the minimum that should be done. But it will be an uphill battle to get this, given how the tainted blood issue weaves through other politically correct material. Still, we should try.
Although Dr Davis’ book deals with a depressing and alarming theme, it is important, and he writes with passion and conviction, which we must admire. It was hard to get to sleep the night when I finished reading this. The heartlessness and hypocrisy of the government, its lies, deception and callousness to human suffering, is chilling.
This is another book which needs to be purchased in multiple copies and strategically passed around, to get the word out.