April 1, 2002
David Autrey, a ranch hand infected with HIV from blood donated in San Antonio, Texas, has filed a $100 million negligence lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed March 15 in Dallas, San Antonio TV station KMOL reported Thursday night. The lawsuit names Abbott Laboratories; Dr. Mark Elliott Lawrence, a surgeon; Scott & White Clinic; and the South Texas Blood and Tissue Center.
Medical experts confirm the Autrey case is the first time in three years that HIV-tainted blood has slipped through the nation's tougher screening system. Autrey, 51, who is living in Durango, was infected from an August 2000 blood transfusion he received during emergency heart bypass surgery at Scott & White Hospital in Temple. "Right now, the medication's working, it's keeping the HIV in check," Autrey told KMOL.
The product came from South Texas Blood and Tissue Center. The blood center said it will explain its position in court, rather than try the case in the media. "We are greatly saddened by Mr. Autrey's situation as our mission is to save lives and to do no harm," the center said in a statement. "We hope that his misfortune will not be used to distort our risks or, of equal importance, to minimize the lives saved every hour of each day as a result of blood transfusions." Calls for comment were not immediately returned Thursday by Abbott Labs, the clinic or Lawrence.
The incident was the first time that HIV has been transmitted through a transfusion since US blood banks implemented new screening technology in 1999, said Dr. Michael Busch, a professor at the University of California-San Francisco and an executive with Blood Centers of the Pacific.