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Hepatitis C victims urged to seek compensationPaige Aarhus
Jun 20, 2007
Red Deer Advocate


The forgotten victims of hepatitis C finally had their day in court this month when the Court of Queens Bench of Alber= ta approved a $1-billion settlement for Canadians infected with the disease.=
More than 20,000 Canadians received tainted blood from the Canadian blood system in the 1970s and 80s.
Many wound up with hepatitis C, which can destroy the liver and eventually kill.
An earlier settlement offered compensation to victims, but only those who were infected between 1986 and 1990.
Its one of these situations where the government made what I think was a = very unfair decision, said Vaughn Marshall, class counsel in the lawsuit.
A number of us felt that to exclude at least one-half of the victims on t= he basis of the date of their infection breaches section 15 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
The first settlement for tainted blood victims wrapped up in 1999.
Marshall criticized the government for forcing victims who had been infec= ted much earlier to wait longer for their compensation.
I didnt think it was very fair at all, that t= he ones before that time period werent even considered.
I felt the government needed to promise everybody treatment, said Holly <= span class=3DSpellE>Turigan
, a volunteer with the Alberta Liver Foundat= ion Central Alberta Chapter.
Turigan was infected with the disease when sh= e had hip surgery as a child, but wasnt diagnosed u= ntil 1997. After persistent flu-like symptoms, Turigans doctor finally ran tests for hepatitis C and the results came back positi= ve.
I was extremely upset. Im still upset, I felt cheated, she said.
A mother of two grown children, Turigan said = the disease has affected many aspects of her familys life.
I know it will shorten my life to some extent.
Right now Im not able to enjoy it the way I w= ould like to. I wish for better for my kids, she said.
Turigan didnt wan= t to go into detail about her symptoms, but said that fatigue is a part of daily life.
Other symptoms of hepatitis C include decreased appetite, abdominal pain, jaundice and itching.
Turigan said she plans to use any settlement = money to begin new rounds of treatment that could destroy the virus. After a previous treatment called Pegasus failed, her insurance coverage would no longer pay for any additional therapy, which costs $1,800 per month.
Thats the unfortunate part; once youve gone through treatment and it doesnt work, youre sitting there waiting for a clini= cal trial, she said.
Newspaper notification for victims will start in July. Marshall said he encourages all victims to watch the paper and contact class counsel if th= ey have any questions.
Whats probably most important is that the settlement approval is the beginning of the compensation process, its not the end. Applications have to be made for compensation and a decision made by the administrator. It takes time and = can be complex, he said.
Visit www.marshall-attorneys.com for more information.
Contact Paige Aarhus at paarhus@reddeeradvocate.com

© Copyright 2007 Red Deer Advocate

 

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