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“The only thing necessary for these diseases to the triumph is for good people and governments to do nothing.”



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 court.

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.


It 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 first trial.

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.

On 1st November 2000, Little Bolin tested positive for AIDS at the Zhumadian People’s Hospital. A day later, he was dead.

On 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 ruling.

In 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.”

In 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.


A 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.

A 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.

On 16 March 2002, Dandan died amongst much pain and suffering.

Fear of Blood Transfusions: Why can’t the safety of the blood be guaranteed?

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 AIDS.

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 source.

In 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.

A 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 Zhumadian.

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)