I’m being completely serious. This is a true story that feels sort of like a cross between “Erin Brockovich” and The Rainmaker, except that the details are even more compelling. Between 1981 and 1987, 50% of the hemophiliac community in the U.S. contracted HIV through contaminated clotting factor extracted from contaminated blood. Too many of them were children, but the casualties also included adults (and spouses, since some of the doctors treating such patients weren’t immediately forthcoming about their infection). Vial 023 is a father’s story of his son’s death and his family’s subsequent fight for justice and recognition from the pharmaceutical companies who used blood from high risk donors for far too long. (Because you know where you can get cheap blood? In PRISON.) The Crosses were willing to initiate legal action on their son’s behalf in a time when people were irrational and hateful about those with AIDS, and they became tireless leaders and supporters of those in like situations. After a 10-year legal battle, which they eventually realized was unwinnable, Gary Cross was again the initiator, this time of a change in strategy that led to an entirely different outcome than either side expected.
This is an incredible story.
In the interest of full disclosure, Cross is not in any way a writer–but this story speaks for itself. A great movie director could make the ultimate settlement a cinematic scene to remember; I’m truly hoping one of them does. In the meantime, this is a book that needs to be read.
And if you happen to know Steven Spielberg? Tell him to read it, too!