lawsuits its generated, has already instilled physical and psychological
fear of blood transfusions among the Chinese people
China Newsweek (Zhongguo Xinwen Zhoukan), 13 August 2003
Our reporter: Liu Zhiming
August 1st was Sun Aihong’s 39th birthday. The difference with birthdays
in the past is that this one was spent in the middle of a lawsuit.
Two Aids lawsuits, two Aids families
The verdict was recently delivered, the Gongyi City court in Henan
province found that Sun Aihong had been infected with the AIDS virus
during an operation eight years ago. At that time the Gongyi City
People’s Hospital had given her a blood transfusion.
The court ruled that the hospital should pay Sun 268,000 yuan in
compensation. The hospital appealed, the appeal has yet to be heard in
Without a doubt, getting AIDS was an enormous blow for Sun Aihong but
what has been even more unbearable is the attitude of her friends and
family. In the eyes of the local people, AIDS is not just an incurable
infectious disease, but also a kind of “promiscuous” disease. Sun Aihong
was forced to move to her parent’s home after she could no longer live
with her in-laws. People who knew her well would avoid her. Her
grandmother would even spit on the floor violently in front of her.
began in June 2000. Sun Aihong suddenly developed a persistent fever and
cough. She went to several hospitals for treatment but was unable to
control her condition. When she went for tests at a Zhengzhou hospital,
the doctor saw the operation scar on her body and asked her if she had
ever received a blood transfusion. Sun remembered that in March 1995 she
had lost a lot of blood during a caesarian section in the Gongyi City
People’s Hospital. At the rime the doctor had given her a transfusion of
blood plasma. When her blood pressure began to climb, she was given 2000
cc of blood.
Sun accepted the doctor’s recommendation and went to the Henan
provincial epidemic station for an HIV test. Several days later, the
result came out, she tested positive for HIV.
Sun’s father is in his sixties. He stayed by his daughter’s bedside when
she was being treated in the Zhengzhou hospital. Of his three daughters
Aihong is the eldest, his other two daughters are mute. The day before
we visited the family, father Sun had just returned from the Xinjiang
military brigade where he had once served. He had gone to get a “proof
of settlement” along with the “settlement fee”. He said he now had
“money to treat my daughter’s illness, to save her life”.
Sun Aihong harbours great hopes for the court case. She stubbornly
insists that this is the only way for her to wash away the injustice
she’s endured. She says the lawsuit is “only way I can prove there is
nothing wrong with my behaviour.”
The Number 6 People’s Hospital in Zhengzhou is a specialist AIDS
hospital. It was while receiving treatment there that Sun Aihong met
fellow sufferer Xu Chuchu. Like Sun Aihong, Xu Chuchu got AIDS after
being given a blood transfusion in childbirth. She too is involved in an
AIDS lawsuit and also won after a court hearing in Xihua County. The
defendant in that case is making an appeal. On August 6th, Xu Chuchu’s
case will re-open in the Zhoukou City Intermediate Court.
Unlike Sun Aihong’s case, there are three defendants in Xu Chuchu’s
case, including the Zhoukou City Epidemic Station.
According to Xu’s husband the reason the Epidemic Station is included is
because his wife was given a transfusion of blood at the Zhoukou City
People’s hospital that was purchased from the local Red Cross and that
is a unit under the Epidemic Station.
Chuchu is a regular patient at the Zhengzhou No.6 People’s Hospital. She
and Sun Aihong met here and became friends. They still maintain
telephone contact, keeping each other informed of developments in their
legal actions. It was here also that they befriended a little boy from
Sanmenxia. He was given a transfusion of 200 cc of blood to treat his
anaemia, and was infected with HIV.
The little boy is also reportedly fighting a lawsuit and already won at
the first hurdle. But nobody knows what happened afterwards.
Although many years have passed since the transfusion, Xu Chuchu’s
husband still has all the evidence, including all the receipts from the
hospital, the receipt from the blood transfusion and other related
proof. According to this strong-charactered man, this evidence has been
crucial in bringing the case to court and securing a victory in the
Zhumadian: AIDS lawsuits temporarily put on hold
Jing Bolin was born on 15 December 1994. Not long after he was born he
received treatment at the Zhumadian People’s Hospital for an infection
of the umbilical cord. Little Bolin’s mother Fan Handan recalls that
during the treatment, the doctor told her the child needed a blood
transfusion. At the time, the hospital did not have any blood. So Fan
went to the Zhumadian 159 hospital blood station to buy blood. On the
second day, another transfusion was needed and Fan went to the Zhumadian
Centre to buy it.
1st November 2000, Little Bolin tested positive for AIDS at the
Zhumadian People’s Hospital. A day later, he was dead.
3rd April 2000, his mother Fan Handan took the Zhumadian 159 hospital,
the blood centre and the Zhumadian People’s hospital to court. What is
suspicious is that after three years, the court has yet to make a
these last three years, Fan Handan has made numerous enquiries but to no
avail. She asked the judge: “why is it that similar cases in Nanyang,
Pingdingshan etc have all been concluded. Why is Zhumadian an
exception?” The judge said: “These kinds of cases are being suppressed,
we have to wait for investigation from higher authorities. As to when
there can be a ruling, we are also unclear.”
the same city, Zhang Yiping’s daughter Liu Dandan’s AIDS lawsuit has not
even been accepted.
Liu Dandan fell from the top of a building in an accident and was sent
to the Xincai County Hospital. At the time she was conscious and hadn’t
lost any blood. The only thing was that she hadn’t eaten for a day. The
doctor said that the child would lack nutrients without any food and
needed a blood transfusion to boost nutrition. Liu Dandan was given a
transfusion of a bag of blood. At the time Dandan was just four years
and three months old.
Since then Liu Dandan’s health took a turn for the worse. She has had
constant fevers since December 2000. A test in Zhengzhou showed that
Little Dandan was infected with the HIV virus.
heartbroken Zhang Yiping decided to sue, but the Zhumadian Intermediate
Court refused to accept the case. The court told her this was the
regulation of the higher court. Zhang has tried to intercede through
lawyers on many occasions, to no avail.
staff member at the Zhumadian Intermediate Court told the reporters that
the Henan High Court had issued a notice saying that these kinds of AIDS
lawsuits were not to be taken on for the time being. Sources say the
notice has been in place for several years and has not yet been lifted.
Zhang Yiping believes there are two reasons why the court won’t accept
the case. One is that there are too many of AIDS lawsuits in the
Zhumadian area. They would be hard to block once the doors were opened.
The other is the need to protect the local reputation.
16 March 2002, Dandan died amongst much pain and suffering.
Fear of Blood Transfusions: Why can’t the safety of the blood be
Undoubtedly, blood transfusions have become a double-edged sword. They
can save lives, but also create the risk of death.
“Blood collection and transfusion must be regulated. They must be
carried out under strict procedures. Only this way can we guarantee the
blood is safe, says Professor Dai Zhiceng (check?) of the China
Association for the Prevention of Sexually Transmitted Diseases and
According to estimates by the WHO, only between 20% and 80% of the
world’s health systems can supply enough blood annually. More than half
of the countries in the world do not conduct thorough tests of donated
blood. This has led to people being infected with AIDS, hepatitis,
malaria and syphilis through blood transfusions.
The interviewees for this article and their relatives were infected with
HIV through blood transfusions carried out in the period around 1995.
According to their accounts blood collection was extremely haphazard at
this time. There was no way of safeguarding the safety of the blood
the bed next to Xu Chuchu at the Number 6 People’s Hospital in Zhengzhou
is an AIDS patient who’s not yet thirty. He’s a farmer who sold blood
more than 80 times. Within a few years he was able to buy a car with the
money he earned from selling blood. Even when tests showed he had
hepatitis, he carried on selling blood.
person in charge at the Gongyi City People’s Hospital Blood Station told
us that when Sun Aihong was given a blood transfusion at that hospital
in 1995, the blood would have been collected locally by the hospital
itself. According to the relevant regulations at the time, any county or
city could build its own blood station and collect blood.
The chaos that surrounded the management of blood supplies, and the
number of AIDS lawsuits it has sparked has clearly instilled fear of
blood transfusions. One Gongyi resident told us “now we’re mortified by
the thought of blood transfusions, we’re even afraid on injections.” We
discovered this kind of attitude was not uncommon in Gongyi and
According to retired gynaecologist and China’s leading AIDS prevention
campaigner Dr Gao Yaojie, even after the “Blood Transfusion Law” was
promulgated, chaotic blood collection practices still continued in some
places and continue to result in harmful consequences.
Merchant farmer Di Ying is a victim of an impromptu blood transfusion.
When his son Di Kangkang developed acute appendicitis, the village
doctor Lin Fangmou told Di that the blood in the bloodbank had been on
the shelf for too long and would be of bad quality. Lin suggested that
blood freshly taken from a person would be much better. Once Di agreed
Lin telephoned a “blood source”. Farmer Shou Xiaojun, a bachelor who
often traveled to Jiangsu, Xuzhou, Shandong’s Dan County, Anhui and
Gansu, to sell blood.
With the aid of Lin, Shou Xiaojun’s blood was directly injected into the
veins of Di Kangkang, bringing with it AIDS and death.
(Names of patients and their family members have been changed)