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Sunday, January 08, 2017

Corey Dubin: A Legend Leaves Us

Corey Dubin
We were all just talking about what a year 2016 was for celebrity losseslegends, really: David
Bowie, Prince, Leonard Cohen, and right at the end, George Michael.

And then on January 4, 2017, the hemophilia community lost a legend. Corey Dubin, an extraordinary person, passed at his home. Corey had hemophilia and contracted HIV from using tainted blood products. He became one of our foremost advocates to win compensation for those infected with factor concentrates, and he helped draft the Ricky Ray Hemophilia Relief Fund Act.

In 1992, Corey co-founded and in 1995 was elected president of the Committee of Ten Thousand (COTT), a nonprofit that represented the thousands with hemophilia who were infected with HIV.  From 1995-1999 he was appointed as a voting member of the FDA, Blood Products Advisory Committee. He went on to participate in several state and national working groups on blood safety and AIDS education. He worked endless days and nights to ensure that those infected received the support and care they deserved. He had excellent skills in both writing and speaking. Previously, he was a journalist covering Latin America and US foreign policy. You can Google his name and read numerous articles he has written, or were written about him.
Corey Dubin, a legend
He was cited many times in the epic book Blood by Douglas Starr, which covers first the history of blood, and then the blood contamination scandal of the 1980s and 90s. Starr describes Corey first as a "hulking man with a Pancho Villa mustache and a savage intensity..." I loved that short phrase because that was Corey: incredibly intense, focused, a bit intimidating at times. When he fixed his eyes on you, you knew he had something to say, and would say it.

Corey was a rare leader: at first situational, contracting HIV, deciding to do something to protect others from getting it, and striving to win compensation for those infected; positional, as president of COTT; and transformational, as government and the community changed to reflect his insistent requests and demands for safer blood and blood products. He was our warrior, a leader on the front lines, taking a bullet, and continuing on. I stood in awe of him, and he was a bit wary of me at first. I could not comprehend what he had been through and he knew this. My son with hemophilia represented the next generation, HIV-free, thanks to advocates like Corey. I could never know what he and his peers had endured.

Laurie Kelley and Corey Dubin at
NHF Meeting in Denver, 2008
Corey channeled everything into a passionate pursuit to make life better for others. His most recent passion was to ensure that there would be a national memorial for those with hemophilia who died of AIDS. He was trying to raise money for this; it might look like the Vietnam Memorial, he once told me, with the names of each person with hemophilia who died inscribed on it. All Corey wanted was for each person to be remembered.

I'm sorry he has not lived to see the memorial, which will become a reality. And true to his wishes for others, we will never forget him, his charismatic presence, his gravelly voice, flowing locks and ice blue eyes, his bear hugs, his passion, his caring. He truly loved this community and gave his life for it and our children, who enjoy safe products and a bright future.

Corey lived in California, and leaves behind three daughters and six grandchildren. 

You can watch Corey give a speech on blood safety here:


g. pascal zachary said...

I knew Corey and he profoundly influenced me. Laurie's beautiful if brief tribute captures well the spirit of this extraordinary man.

g. pascal zachary said...

Laurie's beautiful if brief tribute does justice to this extraordinary man who enriched and improved my own life.

Eva Lovee said...

Laurie, thank you for capturing his essence and his story so greatly in this post. It perfectly summarizes his life, his accomplishments and his legacy. He touched so many people and it is amazing to hear stories from friends and colleagues, because as a family member I have an inevitable appreciation and love for him. But, he being as amazing as he is, has an "inevitable" force around him, for everyone who comes in contact with him inevitably appreciates and loves him for all that he is. It's very hard to dislike him, quite frankly. Like you mentioned, he being "incredibly intense... a bit intimidating at times" and he was exactly that, but in the best of ways- it was great. And the best comparison can only be to a bear- he gave the best hugs, he was intense and intimidating at times, and he was also very passionate, loving, caring, and proud of his family and friends. Again, thank you for this wonderful post, I know it makes both him and myself proud.

With love,
Eva Acuna- Olivas (granddaughter to Corey)

Anonymous said...

I didn't know Corey but knew of him through another community member who is a very candid person. This community member's respect and admiration gave me an idea as to the type of person Corey was.

I admire Corey because he was standing up for me at a time when I thought I was forgotten by society. He, along with others, were fighting for me when I thought no one else cared...Selfless people like him continued to give me a voice while I continued to suffer in silence, and still do, because of HIV.

My regret is not being able to gaze, in person, into his soul through his crystalline blue eyes.--Even though that opportunity is long gone, I cherish the words memorializing him because they are a looking glass into his eternal soul.