Archive for the ‘Lamb’s Blood’ Category

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Was the U.S. blood industry’s supply of raw plasma flowing in from Latin American and Caribbean countries in the 1970s contaminated with Hepatitis C?

February 5, 2013

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LAMB’S BLOOD is a novel based on a human blood collecting operation in Nicaragua that was exporting its product in huge quantities to U.S. blood industry facilities in the 1970s.

Hepatitis C (HCV) is a contagious liver disease caused by a virus. Those who contract the disease are at risk of developing liver cirrhosis and/or liver cancer. There was no screening test for HCV prior to the 1990s, and it was known the disease was heavily endemic throughout Latin America and the Caribbean region. Nevertheless, the U.S. blood industry was importing raw human blood products from a great many of the Latin American and Caribbean nations in the 1970s and 1980s. Other human blood transmitted diseases include Hepatitis A and B, HIV/AIDS, Chagas, Malaria, West Nile Virus, and others.

LAMB’S BLOOD is now available through Amazon.com, the Kindle Store, and through local independent bookstores.

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

January 21, 2013

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“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.

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Cash for Blood

January 3, 2013

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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.

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Somoza said to have diverted millions in U.S. foreign aid dollars to build and equip blood harvesting centers.

December 29, 2012

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In the pre-revolutionary Nicaragua of the 1960s, it has been charged, millions of dollars in U.S. foreign aid funds were diverted to construct and equip blood harvesting centers in several locations around the country. When completed they mysteriously became the private property of Centro Americana de Plasmapheresis, S.A., a Nicaraguan corporation at least partially owned by then President Anastasio Somoza.

nicaragua-burningBetween 1975, when it was licensed to collect blood for export to the United States by the U.S. Bureau of Biologics, and 1978, when it was burned to the ground by Sandinista revolutionaries, untold numbers of glass and plastic containers filled with the blood and plasma of Nicaraguan peasants found their way into the pipeline that fed the U.S. blood industry, otherwise known throughout Latin America as la sanguijuela (the bloodsucker).

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In 1977, Nicaragua’s president was buying so much blood from his people critics called him a “vampire”

December 27, 2012
USDA photo. PD.

USDA photo. PD.

Pedro Joaquin Chamorro, editor of La Prensa, one of Nicaragua’s major newspapers, accused President Somoza of owning part of a firm that bought blood plasma from peasants for pennies and shipped it to corporations in the United States at a huge profit. The poor were being herded to blood harvesting facilities like sheep being driven to the marketplace. La Prensa became a thorn in Somoza’s side and on January 10, 1978, Chamorro was assassinated.

(References: The United States and the Caribbean in the Twentieth Century by Lester D. Langley, pages 283-84; and “Nicaragua’s Somoza: Dictator at Bay” by David Reed, Reader’s Digest, January 1979, page 143.)

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Lamb’s Blood: Author Bio

December 26, 2012

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Jerry Genesio is a native of Massachusetts. He served six years in the U.S. Marine Corps and is a University of Southern Maine graduate. Jerry traveled in Nicaragua during the counter-revolution of the mid-1980s interviewing journalists, clerics, healthcare professionals, Sandinista and Contra military leaders, U.S. embassy and military personnel, and many average citizens.   He was employed in the U.S. blood industry for nearly two decades resigning when he confirmed that his employer was importing raw blood products from Third World nations. He is the founder of the Children of War Rescue Project and participated in the evacuation of wounded children from war-torn Bosnia in the mid-1990s. Jerry retired in 2003 and now lives in Scarborough, Maine, where he writes full time.

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Lamb’s Blood by Jerry Genesio – now available through Amazon, Kindle, and local bookstores.

December 26, 2012

BookCoverImageLamb’s Blood is a novel set in Washington, D.C., Boston, and Nicaragua, 1978, during the Sandinista Revolution. American journalist Mark Marino lives with the knowledge that he allowed officials to lie to him when he was a war correspondent in Vietnam. He feels in some way responsible for the millions who died during that conflict, one of whom was his own brother. A decade later he witnesses an assassination attempt and a murder and, recognizing an opportunity to redeem himself, he resolves to bring the killer to justice. His mission leads him first to Boston, where he is reacquainted with two colleagues, Tony Rosati, and his daughter, Rina, with whom he falls in love. They discover a link between the killer, Carlos Tortue, a Vietnam veteran and former Green Beret of mixed Haitian and Nicaraguan heritage, and a Boston-based manufacturer of human blood products. Tortue kills again during an attempt on Tony Rosati’s life and then escapes to Nicaragua with Marino in pursuit.

Marino is no stranger to Nicaragua, having covered the Managua earthquake in December of 1972, and he immediately tries to find two men he met at that time: José Velasquez, a fellow journalist, and Padre Las Casas, a Roman Catholic barrio priest. Both are sympathetic to the Sandinista revolutionaries. Rina Rosati joins Marino in Managua and Las Casas arranges for them to meet with a rebel commander who allows them to accompany him and his comrades on a raid. The target is a clinic that trades in peasant blood for export, and Carlos Tortue is involved in the operation.

LAMB’S BLOOD by Jerry Genesio, CreateSpace, ISBN 9781481292191, 214 pages, Paperback $10.95, Kindle e-book $2.99