An Oahu man is suing the Blood Bank of Hawaii and the American Red Cross, claiming that he became HIV-positive after getting a blood transfusion during open heart surgery.
The unidentified man received the blood during heart bypass surgery in August 2011 at what was then Hawaii Medical Center East.
The lawsuit contends that nearly two years later, in July 2013, the man tested positive for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.
His lawyers said it was because of the blood transfusion.
"Guy went to a hospital, had a surgical procedure. And this is the result," said attorney Michael Green.
Green is one of the attorneys who filed the lawsuit on behalf of the man, his wife and his three children. He says the man did not have the virus before the surgery. The lawsuit claims the Blood Bank and the Red Cross were negligent in testing the blood.
"If you got the blood in the hospital, it's going to somebody," said Green. "And for this to be contaminated like this is bad."
The lawsuit does not identify the man or his family, instead using the aliases "John Doe" and "Jane Doe." Attorneys said that's because of the stigma that is still attached to AIDS and those who are HIV-positive.
"What you have to do to take care of yourself every single day is enormous," said Green. "Plus the fear. People just don't want to get around you. If they hear about it they'd rather have to sit across the room."
The defendants in the lawsuit responded with statements. American Red Cross spokeswoman Kara Lusk Dudley said, "Regarding the lawsuit, our investigation to date indicates that the claims against the Red Cross have no merit. It is important for the public to know that donating blood is a safe process, and people should not hesitate to give or receive blood."
The Blood Bank said, "Safety of the blood supply is paramount and we work diligently each day toward zero risk for all patients in need of blood. The blood supply is the safest its ever been."
The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages which would be determined at trial.