Archive for January, 2013


Lamb’s Blood: A novel based on the U.S. blood industry and its role in Nicaragua’s Sandinista Revolution during the late 1970s.

January 31, 2013


Available in softcover at ($10.95) and Kindle ($2.99):


“Cash for Blood” operations in U.S. prisons.

January 21, 2013


“Cash for Blood” operations weren’t all off shore, but the degree of exploitation within the United States was equal in many ways to the degree of each client’s freedom. Austin R. Stough, a physician from Oklahoma, opened a plasmapheresis center in the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in 1962. By the close of 1963, Dr. Stough had similar facilities operating in the Kilby, Draper, and Atmore prisons in Alabama, and another at the Cummins Farm Prison in Arkansas. Unfortunately, the cases of viral hepatitis, an often fatal disease of the liver, began climbing sharply during the same time period and the following year prisoners were dying of infectious hepatitis. The exact number of cases in the five prisons was never established. Many records were never completed, and other simply vanished. Byron Emery, an official of Cutter Laboratories, one of the U.S. blood industries major players at that time, told federal authorities that he was appalled by the conditions he found when he visited an Alabama prison in 1964. He said the plasmapheresis rooms were “sloppy” and that gross contamination of the rooms with donors’ plasma was evident. Emery actually acknowledged that Dr. Stough clearly could not be trusted to properly supervise the program. Nevertheless, Cutter remained one of Dr. Stough’s biggest customers.

inmatesmokingWhen Stough’s operations were finally closed down, he quickly began opening new facilities in some of the same prisons where he used prisoners as guinea pigs to test new drugs for the pharmaceutical industry. According to a New York Times article published in 1969, those companies included the Wyeth Laboratories Division of American Home Products Corporation; the Lederle Laboratories Division of American Cyanamid Company; the Bristol-Myers Company; the E.R. Squibb & Sons Division of Squibb Beach-Nut Inc.; the Merck, Sharp & Dohme Division of Merck & Co.; and the Upjohn Company.


Hemo-Caribbean sold more than $3 million worth of blood plasma siphoned from Haitians

January 11, 2013


The U.S. commercial blood industry was actively seeking new and cheaper sources of marketable blood in 1971 when the Haitian government granted Miami-based Hemo-Caribbean a ten year concession to harvest and export blood plasma from Port-au-Prince. The company harvested blood from Haitian donors for $3.00 per liter and shipped it via Air Haiti to the U.S. where it was sold for $23.00 per liter. Air Haiti was partly owned by Luckner Cambronne, at that time Haiti’s Minister of the Interior.

During its first year in business Hemo-Caribbean exported an estimated 5,000 to 6,000 liters of blood plasma monthly operating six days a week and fourteen hours a day. Sales to American distributors alone exceeded $3 million and represented 70,000 pounds of blood plasma siphoned from 170,000 Haitians.

Armour Pharmaceutical, which relied on Hemo-Caribbean for 15 per cent of its total raw blood plasma supply, claimed Haitian plasma was of excellent quality. But many health professionals insisted the Haitian donors were protein deficient and should be receiving rather than selling blood plasma.

Sources: “Now the Blood” by Louis A. Perez, Jr., Progressive, 39-40 Jan 1975; and “Haiti Blood Plasma Curb Poses Problems”, The Afro-American, 6, Jan 13, 1973.

Cash for Blood

January 3, 2013


About a year after the December of 1972 earthquake in Nicaragua, Dr. Pedro Ramos Quiroz, a Cuban exile, opened a “Cash for Blood” center in Managua. His company was called Centro Americana de Plasmaféresis SA, and one his partners was Nicaraguan President Anastasio Somoza. Nearly all of the blood plasma collected was sold to companies in the United States and Western Europe, and the only people who profited from the operation were Somoza, who had a private fortune estimated at in excess of $1 billion, the American-Cuban Ramos, and their friends.

Source: Blood: Gift or Merchandise by Piet J. Hagen, Alan R. Liss, Inc., New York, 1982, pp. 168-69.