Letter to Senator Dianne Feinstein
7142 Trask Avenue
Playa del Rey, CA 90293
(310) 745--3444/ (310) 827-5635 FAX
August 9, 2004
Senator Dianne Feinstein
331 Hart Senate Building
Washington, DC 20510-0504
Dear Senator Feinstein,
Seven years is a long time. That's how long it's been from the time I first walked into your West Los Angeles office seeking a meeting with you. My motivation was very simple.
I lost my daughter Anique, who was all of 11 years old, in 1992 to AIDS contracted from an HIV infected blood transfusion shortly after her birth Sept. 23, 1980. Since then I've tried in vain to understand and find closure to what happened to her and 113 other infants also infected at Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.
Seven years Senator. That's how long I have tried in vain to meet with you. Seven years is how long I have written you countless times and sought your help in this tragedy all to no avail. In your May 6, 2004, letter you mention three requests I've made, but address only the "Steve Grissom Relief Fund Act" directly. While this is appreciated, it in essence still avoids your commitment to do anything meaningful.
Seven years Senator, this spans two of your terms in office. So you can understand and appreciate my frustration and disappointment.
Another infant, stricken with post-transfusion related HIV, was identified in a December 29, 1983, letter from Cedars to the LA County Health Dept. This neonate received blood from the exact same donation as Anique. Records show this male donor gave blood at Cedars own blood bank 17 times between 1979 to 1983; 17 times! One could rightly assume the LA Health Dept. notified the Centers for Disease Control of this deadly donor or else their actions would not just be negligent, but criminal as well. At precisely the same time, CDC had a major investigative team in San Francisco actively tracking back infected donors in your home city as the AIDS crisis was emerging.
Identification of this donor is a critical point for it would have enabled even a layman like me to determine when the first infection occurred. He gave blood 17 times over a 4 year period which is virtually every 90 days. And if, like the donation that took Anique's life, the blood was broken down into four or more aliquots for neonates, he theoretically could have infected 68 infants! Think about that Senator; 68 infants!
It was not until 1984, when Cedars had active or constructive knowledge of as many as 24 cases of AIDS, that the hospital took any action. But, even then, they would not address this problem on their own! They sought grant funding for a "look-back" study from three outside sources. And guess who ultimately provided those funds? If you answered the Centers for Disease Control, you are right! So, it is obvious that by 1984 the nation's foremost health agency charged with stemming epidemics like AIDS had full awareness of the problem at Cedars.
And when do you think they notified me or any of the other families? The correct answer is 1987! Years after they had active and constructive knowledge of the crisis. So what were they doing during this time? Certainly, not helping anyone. Fact is CDC did not contact me or anyone else. That was Cedar-Sinai's job, you say? Well then, what was that CDC investigative team doing in San Francisco in 1983?
This is just the tip of the iceberg Senator. There is also the issue of documents being destroyed a full year after they were requested by myself and Rep. Jane Harman. That is very disturbing, and suggests a cover-up. I won't give up until all the questions are answered to my satisfaction. To that end, I again seek a Justice Dept. or congressional investigation into this tragedy.
Don't tell me this is ancient history. In the first place, it's not ancient history to the parents of a dead child. In the second place, if none of the parties who were reckless, negligent, deliberately indifferent to the welfare of others, and who covered this up (sound familiar?) have been brought to book, what's to stop them from continuing to pursue their arrogant, irresponsible ways? What's to stop the people they train and direct from continuing the same derelict ways? They are all still at work. Do you think my tragedy and the tragedies of others who lost their children and were not told until years later what was killing their sons and daughters are the last such tragedies that will ever occur? Hardly. Medical and other tragedies that could have been avoided by ordinary due care will continue to occur; and the culpable parties will continue to hide the facts to protect themselves-unless both government and the private sector take clear, open, public, and decisive action to say that such actions-and such systems of silent cover-up-have to end. This isn't the first that public officials and private parties receiving government support have gravely injured the public.
No one wants to address this issue. Although your staff has been polite to me and displayed some empathy, it is obvious that they, or you, or both have until now never had any intention of hearing me out and of taking appropriate action to blunt the irresponsible segments of the health care establishment. Seven years, and still nothing is being done.
For seven years I have repeatedly said I am looking for allies, not adversaries. I will continue to pursue this cause with or without your help and I will prevail. It is it difficult to understand your failure to consider, in all the years I have been trying to secure your attention, whether what I have been saying has at least a substantial core of truth to it: It surely does, as my extensive documentation and investigation have clearly proved. And it is hard to understand your reluctance to stand beside me in condemning the conduct of the "health care providers" in failing to control the spread of AIDS and to advise parents that their children are dying of a preventable disease, and in hiding and refusing to acknowledge their failures. They have never recognized the justice of the claims of parents such as me who lost their children and who were never timely advised of the truth concerning their children's fatal conditions. It is all the more puzzling since revealing these failures to public scrutiny serves the public interest, your constituents' interests, and your interest as an elected office-holder, as well as my own and that of other bereaved parents.
Seven years is too long a period of time for a request like mine to go unfilled. You have had my vote and loyal support throughout your tenure in the Senate. Now, I ask once again for your support in this matter.
Anticipating a prompt reply, I am
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