December 3, 1997

Cry Bloody Murder: A Tale of Tainted Blood

Author Affiliations

Northwestern University Medical School Chicago, Ill


by Elaine DePrince, 210 pp, $23, ISBN 0-679-45676-7, New York, NY, Random House, 1997.

JAMA. 1997;278(21):1792. doi:10.1001/jama.1997.03550210090049

In 1965, Pool and Shannon1 described a method for concentrating factor VIII from large volumes of donor plasma. This made possible the commercialization of factor VIII production for the treatment of hemophilia. The commercial concentrates were easy to use and effective, but, as became abundantly clear two decades later, they were contaminated with hepatitis and human immunodeficiency (HIV) viruses. Thousands of hemophiliacs have died from the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), and thousands more are now living with the virus.

Mrs DePrince has been deeply hurt by this tragedy; of her five children, three acquired AIDS through therapy for hemophilia; the two most written about in this book died at ages 12 and 15. DePrince tries to show that the tragedy was avoidable, that manufacturers were aware that concentrates were contaminated by hepatitis viruses before the AIDS epidemic but took no action to improve the quality of their products, that