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."
Blending personal heartache and flashes of humor, Cross recounts caring for Brad as his health faded, including helping his son restore a car he would never get to drive. He also offers behind-the-scene glimpses of the search for justice, including lobbying politicians and tangling with attorneys. The book's title refers to a vial of Brad's blood that became evidence in one court action.
The 151-page book includes an endorsement by Donna E. Shalala, U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services from 1993 to 2001. She says that Cross' "compelling mix of grief and humor reminds us of just how far we have come in battling this terrible disease."
Cross now lives in Prairieville, La., where he and Karen are active in fund-raising for The Children's Hospital in New Orleans. Additionally, Gary is the Chairman of the Board of Directors of Patient Services, Inc. Midlothian, Virginia, a national non-profit financial patient assistance foundation.
Vial 023: A Father's Pursuit of Justice is available in paperback and ebook formats. Gary Cross can be reached at (225)938-1808 or at Vial023.com.
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SOURCE Gary William Cross