“This event (Australia's tainted blood supply) is the greatest
single tragedy in the history of the Australian Health Service.
People receiving a life-saving treatment have been inﬂected with
a life-taking virus. Governments normally step in on occasions of
disaster Not so this tirne.” — Mrs. jenny Ross, Chair Australian
Haemophilia Foundation from a letter to Health Minister
Blewett, March 1989.
For many years, the author has been troubled that in 1984 a friend was
unnecessarily given a Factor IX concentrate transfusion to treat haemophilia B
(‘Christmas Disease’ or ‘Royal Disease’). The transfusion was infected with Human
Immunodeﬁciency Virus (HIV) and she died an horriﬁc death from Acquired
Immune Deﬁciency Syndrome (AIDS). Her family suffered terribly. Why would a
woman who was only a carrier ofthe Factor IX gene (not a haemophiliac), and who
had given birth to three children, who rode horses and led an active life, be given a
dangerous Factor IX concentrate transfusion?
Since December I982, throughout the world, haematologists had stressed that
Factor VIII and Factor IX, which had been manufactured from thousands of donors,
were potentially dangerous and should only be used to manage serious bleeding
Ihe author is also troubled that, despite his pleading for autologous blood services
during the 19705, ’8Os and ’9Os, the Australian Red Cross Blood Transfusion Service
(ARCBTS) failed to introduce autologous (self-donated) blood donation programs.
F1'0m the late 19705, autologous blood programs were being introduced throughout
thﬁ developed world. From January 1983, Americas blood banks, including the
American Red Cross Blood Transfusion Service, were recommending pre-donated
autologous blood for elective surgery. Autologous blood salvaging machines had been
dﬁveloped, which allowed autologous blood to be used for both elective and emergency
surgery. Some Australian autologous blood programs were started. However, the
author believes the unnecessary use of Red Cross homologous blood during thix
period must have contributed to Australia’s contaminated blood disaster.
Every developed nation, except Australia, has held major reviews of their nationk
tainted blood disasters and concluded that they had been entirely predictable and
that most patients should not have been given any blood products in the ﬁrst plaet;
In Australia, some reviews, even a Senate review of Hepatitis C and the blood supply,
have been held. However, the disaster was and continues to be so horrendous, as
more victims die, that a Senate review or a Royal Commission should have been held
In 2019, the Author published the book [nﬁcted Blood Products." Australzlzk
Greatest Medical Disaster. Haemop/Jilia Holocaust is an expanded, updated volume
dealing with the same infected blood issues.
For some readers, the history ofthis tragedy will bring back appalling memories.
The author apologises, but feels someone should document this terrible medical