PRAIRIEVILLE, La., Dec. 6, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- A Louisiana man is telling the story of a largely unknown American health crisis involving the nation's blood supply, that claimed thousands of lives due to national irresponsibility and lack of proactive oversight.
Gary William Cross recalls his pivotal role in what was called the nation's "hemophilia HIV pandemic" in his new memoir, Vial 023: A Father's Pursuit of Justice. The book tells how Cross' hemophiliac son, Brad, died in April 1993 after becoming infected with HIV through contaminated blood supplies used for his clotting factor treatment. He was 17.
As thousands of other hemophiliacs were infected and subsequently died, Cross and his wife, Karen, became leading figures in the campaign to find out how blood from high-risk donors came to be used in manufacturing the medication that was supposed to protect its users.
Over the course of more than a decade, Cross played a key role in legal discovery and proceedings to determine what went wrong to make sure that it could never happen again. His efforts culminated in a remarkable, behind-closed-doors meeting between some of the families of those who died and representatives from the pharmaceutical companies responsible. The meeting resulted in an unprecedented legal settlement that ended years of courtroom fighting.The Crosses and their daughter Jennifer were featured in the 1996 award-winning 60 Minutes program, "Bad Blood," telling of the HIV crisis within the hemophilia community. But apart from that documentary—made before the legal settlements and governmental oversight changes that were finally realized—the tragic events have largely gone untold. "I felt like the story was fading away, and that it was important to record some of the history of what happened so that no one ever has to face anything like this again," said Cross. "I hope my book will be a helpful reminder, and encourage people to continue to ensure that we have a clean blood supply."