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Monday, December 11, 2006

New Zealand Hemophilia Community gets $30m Compensation

I was honored to be invited to New Zealand in 1997 to speak to families about hemophilia, and even though I have only been once, have made life-long friends there. The "Kiwis" are down to earth, witty and fun-loving people, whose charm belies their incredibly hard-working nature. I have to say they are the best people to hang around with for laughs, but are also the most admired for their perseverance, planning and vision.

Our congratulations then to the hemophilia community in New Zealand, which, after a 14 year campaign, has finally won compensation for hepatitis C infection of blood products used to treat hemophilia. About 185 people with hemophilia will benefit from a $30 million package that will provide payments of up to $70,000 per person.

What's amazing is that screening of donor blood for hep C was not introduced in NZ until July 1992, more than two years after the test first was available.

People with hemophilia and hep C will also get a "written statement of regret" from Prime Minister Helen Clark on behalf of the government. Sadly, 28 people with hemophilia infected with hepatitis C through blood products have died before the compensation ruling was made.

Hemophilia Foundation president Dave McCone said the package was the conclusion of a 14-year campaign. "Improving access to healthcare was the most important aspect of the deal, he said," reports stuff.co.nz. Again, congratulations to everyone--Belinda, Dave, Nikki, Mike, Colleen--for all your perseverance. We'll toast you when we next meet! (let's look for an Irish pub in Istanbul, 2008)

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