Lawsuit alleges man became HIV positive after blood transfusion

Local News

In a lawsuit filed Monday, a man named The American Red Cross and the Blood Bank of Hawaii in a claim that he became infected with HIV after a blood transfusion.

The plaintiff’s attorney Michael Green said Wednesday that both the Red Cross and the blood bank are defendants in the lawsuit until it’s figured out where the blood his client got came from.

Green said there are procedures in place, but somebody missed it.

(The plaintiff, his wife and children are not being named in the complaint to protect their privacy.)

The lawsuit states that in August 2011, a local resident received a blood transfusion during a bypass surgery, and in July of 2013, he tested positive for HIV.

Prior to the surgery, the plaintiff claims he was not infected with HIV/AIDS.

The defendants “had a duty to test the blood donation for HIV before transfusing it into (the plaintiff) during his August 2011 bypass surgery” and that they “failed, neglected and/or refused to perform any such test.”

When asked if it was possible that his client contracted HIV in a different way, Green said “we have covered every aspect in our interview and due dilligence that he wasn’t hanging out in some place at the wrong end of the city.”

A statement was released by the Blood Bank of Hawaii on Wednesday regarding the lawsuit, which read in part:

“Working with our attorneys, we intend to fully investigate these allegations.

Safety of the blood supply is paramount and we work diligently each day towards zero-risk for all patients in need of blood. The blood supply is the safest it’s ever been.

A strict pre-donation screening process helps ensure the safety of the blood. The implementation of highly sensitive antibody screening and molecular testing helps detect viruses in the blood as early as nine days after the infection. Multiple tests for infectious diseases, including HIV, are performed on donated blood.

There is approximately a one in two million chance of contracting HIV through a blood transfusion. This must be weighed against the real danger of not accepting a blood transfusion when it is required to save one’s life. (The blood bank) is committed to blood safety and to the preservation of the supply of safe volunteer donor blood for all patients in need.

Having no blood is a real risk, not a theoretical risk, and it threatens patient care.”

A statement was also released Wednesday from Kara Lusk Dudley, spokesperson for the American Red Cross:

“The safety of American Red Cross blood donors and recipients of blood products is our top priority. The Red Cross performs laboratory tests for multiple infectious disease markers, including HIV, on every unit of donated blood.

Regarding the lawsuit, our investigation to date indicates that the claims against the Red Cross have no merit.

It is important for the public to know that donating blood is a safe process, and people should not hesitate to give or receive blood. Every two seconds, someone in the U.S. needs blood, and that need can only be met through the generosity of volunteer donors.”

Doctor Kalani Brady said donated blood is strictly tested for anemia and a variety of other viruses like HIV, and he has not heard of a test where the patient received blood that’s viral positive.

“Theoretically, I guess in a blue moon, it could be that the blood is HIV positive and the donor hasn’t yet tested positive,” he said.

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