Commemoration of the tainted blood tragedy - Héma-Québec and the Canadian Hemophilia Society Remember... and Turn a Watchful Eye to the Future

    MONTREAL, Oct. 9 /CNW Telbec/ - In 2007, the Canadian Hemophilia Society
(CHS) has launched a program to commemorate the tainted blood tragedy... lest
we forget.
    As part of this initiative, a commemorative Tree of Life will be planted
today at Héma-Québec's Montréal establishment, in the presence of the Québec
Minister of Health and Social Services, Dr. Yves Bolduc, and representatives
of the national and Québec offices of the Canadian Hemophilia Society. A first
Tree of Life was planted on November 26, 2007, at the offices of the Canadian
Blood Services in Ottawa, as part of the tenth anniversary of the tabling of
the report from the Commission of Inquiry on the Blood System in Canada (also
known as the Krever report). There are also plans for Trees of Life to be
planted in other provinces.
    Today's celebration coincides with Héma-Québec's tenth anniversary, after
taking over from the Red Cross and becoming the organization charged with
managing the blood supply in Québec on September 28, 1998. "Héma-Québec was
created as a supplier responsible and accountable for the quality of blood
products intended for patients. By exercising a constant leadership with
respect to the safety of the blood collection and distribution system,
Héma-Québec has gained the trust of the people of Québec. In fact,
Héma-Québec's commitment to blood safety earned it the recognition of the
Canadian Hemophilia Society on a number of occasions. These achievements are
the result of a massive and sustained effort," explained Dr. Francine Décary,
President and Chief Officer.
    Thousands of Quebecers who received a blood transfusion in the 1980s
contracted HIV and/or hepatitis C. More than 65% of those who contracted HIV
suffered from hemophilia or other inherited bleeding disorders. Other people
received transfusions for other reasons (trauma, surgical procedure,
childbirth, cancer, etc.). Unfortunately, three-quarters of these HIV tainted
blood victims died as a result.
    "Following the tragedy in the 1980s, the CHSQ somewhat took on the role
of watchdog for Québec's blood system, in collaboration with key
stakeholders," declared François Laroche, President of the Canadian Hemophilia
Society-Québec Chapter (CHSQ). "We made a commitment to our members to make
sure no such event happens again."
    The Health and Social Services Minister Dr. Yves Bolduc, declared that
"the creation of Héma-Québec was a major milestone in the consolidation of
Québec's transfusion activity support systems", reiterating that the
organization is responsible, since 1998, for supplying safe, optimal blood
components, human tissues and cord blood to hospitals. "Héma-Québec embodies
the priority that each health establishment attributes to this unavoidable
issue. A ceremony such as the one we are attending today is a touching
reminder of the extent to which vigilance is crucial when acting upon people's
health", he added.
    "The CHSQ wants to point out the efforts made by the Government of Québec
and Héma-Québec to secure Quebecers' trust once again in their blood supply
system, in particular by establishing the Hemovigilance Committee, the Comité
consultatif national de médecine transfusionnelle, and Héma-Québec's various
committees, to name but a few," added Mr. Laroche. "Intent on making our
contribution, we take part in several of these committees, through which we
are all working together to make Québec's blood supply system one of the
safest in the world."
    The theme for the commemoration - the tree of life - was so chosen
because the tree is an important symbol around the world. It represents life,
with its branches reaching for the sky and its roots burrowing deeply into the
earth. Families of victims will see it as a tangible way of perpetuating the
memory of the loved ones they lost.
    The CHS sincerely hopes that this movement will lead to a forest of
commemorative trees across the country. The trees are living monuments erected
in the memory of the thousands of people who died following the tainted blood
tragedy in Canada. Let's make sure their pain and suffering were not in vain
and are never forgotten.


    The planting ceremony for Héma-Québec's commemorative tree will take
place at 4:30 p.m. at 4045 Côte-Vertu Boulevard in Ville-Saint-Laurent.

    Profile of the CHS and CHSQ

    The Canadian Hemophilia Society and its provincial chapters, including
the Québec Chapter, work to improve the health and quality of life for all
people with inherited bleeding disorders and to find a cure. Its mission also
consists in improving the state of health and quality of life of the people
affected by the consequences of a tainted blood transfusion.

    About Héma-Québec

    Héma-Québec's mission is to efficiently provide adequate quantities of
safe, optimal blood components, substitutes, human tissues and cord blood to
meet the needs of all Quebecers; provide and develop expertise along with
specialized and innovative services and products in the fields of transfusion
medicine and human tissue transplantation.

For further information:

For further information: Laurent Paul Ménard, External Communications
Director, Héma-Québec, (514) 832-0871,;
Chantal Raymond, National Marketing and Communications Coordinator, Canadian
Hemophilia Society, (514) 848-0503 ext. 226, 1-800-668-2686,

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