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The tragedy of Factor VIII concentrate

The Story

The same substance that prolonged their lives also gave them a death sentence. This is the cruel irony for hemophiliacs who contracted HIV through Factor VIII concentrate, a blood product that controls bleeding. As the Krever Inquiry into the tainted blood scandal gets underway, a new question emerges: did the Red Cross knowingly distribute unsafe Factor VIII to hemophiliacs when a safe product was available? CBC reporter Leslie MacKinnon examines some of the issues Krever will have to confront.

Medium: Television
Program: Prime Time News
Broadcast Date: Feb. 14, 1994
Guest(s): Janet Conners, Donald Francis, Bill Mandel, David Page, Steve Vick
Host: Peter Mansbridge, Pamela Wallin
Reporter: Leslie MacKinnon
Duration: 19:14

Did You know?

• The Krever Commission began preliminary hearings in November 1993 to determine who would have standing at the inquiry. Among them were the Red Cross, the governments of Canada, all provinces except Quebec, and nine organizations representing people who had been infected by HIV or hepatitis C through blood. Two companies that manufactured blood products, Connaught Laboratories and Miles Canada Inc., were also given standing.

• Although Quebec did not seek standing at the inquiry, it had legal representation and participated in the hearings that took place in the province. It also took part in the hearings between March and December 1985 when governments' actions were on the agenda.

• Public hearings began on Feb. 14, 1994. The commission travelled across the country so as many people as possible could testify.
• In the first phase of the hearings, 315 witnesses testified. Most of them were recipients of tainted blood products, or their families.
• Before the hearings even began, Krever announced it was unlikely the commission would wrap up by the target date of September 1994. In fact, hearings didn't end until December 1995.


The Krever Report: Canada's Tainted Blood Disaster more