Victims of tainted blood scandal urging governments to stop plasma clinics

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TORONTO - Victims of the tainted blood scandal and their families are urging the Ontario and federal governments to stop blood-plasma clinics from operating in the province.

They say Canada could face another blood scandal unless the two governments refuse to approve three prospective paid-donor clinics in the Toronto area.

Antonia Swann, whose husband died after receiving tainted blood, says she won't stand by and bury more friends and family while everyone sits back and allows another private blood donor clinic to open.

Michael McCarthy, who received tainted blood, says Canadians must be vigilant to keep their blood supply safe.

Health Canada is currently looking at the clinics, but McCarthy says they need to open up their consultations to the public.

Ontario NDP health critic France Gelinas is urging the governing Liberals to pass legislation outlawing payments for blood.

Health Minister Deb Matthews raised concerns in March about new clinics that would pay people to provide blood plasma.

She wrote to her federal counterpart asking that any approvals be delayed until Health Canada consulted the provinces and other groups.

Winnipeg-based drug maker Cangene, which has been operating for decades, is authorized to pay donors for blood plasma, which is used in its products.

Plasma is a component of blood that contains many proteins and can be used to treat diseases.

Thousands of people in Canada were infected with HIV and hepatitis C after receiving tainted blood transfusions in the 1980s.

The federal government launched a public inquiry in 1993 to look into the scandal.

Justice Horace Krever spent four years in his investigation and made 50 recommendations when he issued his report in 1997. Among them were tighter rules for blood services and no-fault compensation for the victims.

His final report also recommended that blood donors shouldn't be paid for their donations, except in rare circumstances.

Organizations: Health Canada, Cangene

Geographic location: TORONTO, Canada, Ontario

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