Referee Decisions : #56 - September 5, 2002
D E C I S I O N
 The Claimant applied for compensation as a Primarily-Infected
Person pursuant to the Transfused HCV Plan ("the Plan").
 The Claimant had provided sufficient evidence to the
Administrator to support his claim that he had received blood
during the period from January 1, 1986 - July
1, 1990 ("the Class Period").
 However, by letter dated May 3, 2002, the Administrator
denied the Claim, having carefully reviewed the material provided
in support of the claim, along with a committee of three (3)
senior evaluators, for the following reasons:
The results of your Traceback confirmed the donor of the
unit of blood transfused to you, during the class period,
has tested negative for the HCV antibody. In light of this
information, your claim was denied. You indicated in your
response to our first letter that you would be sending in
further evidence. The information you submitted was reviewed
and did not favourably influence the previous results of your
traceback. You submitted a letter dated March 19, 2002 asking
the Administrator to make a final decision on your claim.
Therefore, based on Article 3.04 of The 86-90 Hepatitis C
Settlement Agreement, Transfused Plan, you no not meet the
criteria for compensation and your claim is denied.
 By way of Request for Review by Arbitrator/Referee (the
"Notice of Appeal") dated May 24, 2002, the Claimant
requested a review of the denial of his claim by the Administrator.
In paragraph 4 of his Notice of Appeal, the Claimant stated
that he wished to review the Administrator's decision, for
the following reasons:
My claim was denied, and although the trace back came back
negative, I have information which clearly states, Hepatitis
C can be transmitted through Albumin. The Claims Centre does
not recognize this because Albumin is too difficult to trace.
The unit I received, I was able to trace it back to Cutter
Pharmaceuticals, which is now owned by Bayer Corp. I traced
this on the internet
 The Claimant advised that he wished the matter to proceed
by way of Reference rather than Arbitration, and he requested
an in-person hearing.
 At the request of the Referee, each party was kind enough
to provide advance written submissions.
 Set out below are certain pertinent extracts from the
Claimant's written submission:
After months of getting forms filled out, doctors visits,
I started getting information that my claim was moving forward,
and that a trace back was going to be done, and I'd be hearing
from them shortly. I kept calling the claim centre to get
the updated status, and each time I'd call, I'd get the same
answers; "We are waiting for the trace-back results"
or "We're waiting for the information to be scanned."
Finally, in August of 2001, I received a letter in the mail
telling me that the trace-back came back with the donor having
tested negative. All that time, I was told that I would have
to provide more proof, or my claim would be denied. I wrote
a letter advising the Claim Centre that YOU CAN IN FACT
GET HEPATITIS C THROUGH THE USE OF ALBUMIN
I did not ask for this disease. I was unlucky enough to be
injected by Blood Products, from the Canadian Red Cross Society
(now the Canadian Blood Services), who are solely responsible
for Collecting and Storing, Whole Blood, and numerous other
blood products, including Albumin.
In the 1986-90 Hepatitis C Settlement Agreement, in schedule
A Transfused Plan 1.01 Definitions.
They explain the definitions very carefully, up until the
heading BLOOD. QUOTE: "Blood" means
whole blood and the following blood products:
packed red cells, platelets, plasma
and white blood
cells. Blood does not include Albumin 5%, Albumin 25%, Factor
VIII and the list goes on.
At the beginning of the above quote it clearly states BLOOD
PRODUCTS. Then just a few lines later it omits 20 blood
products out of a possible 24 that they have listed in the
It is my belief that the Canadian Red Cross is solely responsible
for my contracting Hepatitis C, and by denying my claim because
Albumin is too hard to trace, because of the numerous
donors is just plain laziness on their part. Just because
something is too hard for them to do is no reason to deny
my claim. The Canadian Red Cross gave me the disease I have
to live with the rest of my life, and even though I did not
get the disease from Tainted Blood, I did get it from another
one of their Blood Products. There is absolutely nothing in
my past that would have put me at risk as I was not given
any blood products. The 1986-1990 Hepatitis C Settlement Agreement
clearly puts me at Level 3
[emphasis added by Claimant]
 Fund Counsel's written submissions, sent on July 30,
2002, set out the position of the Administrator. The Administrator
concedes that the Claimant had received a unit of blood at
Hanna General Hospital (Alberta) on October 15, 1988 (within
the Class Period). However, the Traceback of the unit of blood
showed that the donor of that blood was negative. Therefore,
the blood received by the Claimant on October 15, 1998 was
not infected with Hepatitis C. The Administrator also acknowledged
that the Claimant had received one unit of 25% Albumin from
Hanna General Hospital. In that regard, however, the Administrator
further relies on the definition of "Blood" in the
Plan, which is as follows:
"Blood" means whole blood and the following blood
products: packed red cells, platelets, plasma (fresh frozen
and banked) and white blood cells. Blood does NOT include:
Albumin 5%, Albumin 25%, Factor VIII, Porcine Factor
VIII, Factor IX, Factor VII, Cytomegalovirus Immune Globulin,
Hepatitis B Immune Globulin, Rh Immune Globulin, Immune Serum
Globulin, (FEIBA), FEVII Inhibitor Bypassing Activity, Autoplex
(Activate Prothrombin Complex). Tetanus Immune Globulin, Intravenous
Immune Globulin (IVIG) and Antithrombin III (ATIII).
 An in-person hearing was held in Saskatoon on August
13, 2002. The Claimant testified on his own behalf and Carol
Miller, Appeals Coordinator of the Hepatitis C January 1,
1986 - July 1, 1990 Claims Centre (the "Claims Centre"),
testified on behalf of the Administrator. In the result, the
matter will indeed be adjudicated upon based on the written
materials and testimony tendered by the parties.
B. Facts, Summary of Evidence
 Pursuant to the terms of the January 1, 1986 - July
1, 1990 Hepatitis Settlement Agreement ("the Settlement
Agreement") and the Plan, the Class Period is the only
period of time in respect of which compensation may be available.
Further, while there are many possible sources of infection
with respect to the Hepatitis C Virus ("HCV"), the
Plan only provides compensation for individuals who received
transfusions of defined blood products during the Class
 The Claims Center file, consisting of 93 pages, was
entered as Exhibit 1 at the hearing. In the Claimant's General
Claimant Information Form (TRAN 1) dated August 22, 2000,
the Claimant stated that he believed that he was infected
with the HCV through a Blood Transfusion in Canada and that
he had received 3 blood transfusions during the class period.
In his accompanying Declaration (TRAN 3) dated August 28,
2000 , the Claimant stated that to the best of his knowledge,
information and belief, he had resided in Alberta during the
Class Period. The Claimant further declared it to be "true"
that to the best of his knowledge, information and belief,
he "was not infected with Hepatitis Non-A Non-B or the
Hepatitis C virus prior to January 1, 1986." In Box 4
on TRAN 3, the Claimant checked off the "true" box
beside the declaration that he "has never at any
time used non-prescription intravenous drugs." The Treating
Physician Form "TRAN 2") was completed by the Claimant's
physician on August 8, 2000. Section F - Box 2 was checked
off as "yes" following the statement: "Having
regard to the definition of blood, the Claimant did receive
a blood transfusion during the period January 1, 1986 to July
1, 1990." The physician checked "no" in answer
to the question: "Is there anything in the HCV Infected
Person's medical history that indicates he or she was infected
with Hepatitis Non-A, Non-B or the HCV prior to January 1,
1986?" In Section F, Box 1, with respect to whether the
Claimant had a history of risk factors for the Hepatitis C
virus other than a blood transfusion during the class period,
the physician checked off the box indicating "Prior significant
surgeries or trauma." This form also indicated that the
physician had known the Claimant since March 6, 2000.
 Exhibit 2 is a letter dated August 1, 2002 from the
Canadian Blood Services (CBS) to Mr. Callaghan, verifying
the percentage of albumin transfused to the Claimant, by Lot
Number and Manufacturer (Cutter), as 25% Albumin. Exhibit
3 is a letter dated July 29, 2002 from the CBS to Ms. Miller
setting out in considerable detail the particulars of the
Traceback procedure undertaken with respect to the Claimant's
file. The Unit of Red Blood Cells that was transfused to the
Claimant on October 15, 1988 at Hanna General Hospital was
identified by unit number and transfusion date. The same applied
with respect to the Albumin transfused to the Claimant at
Hanna General Hospital on October 15, 1988. The letter goes
on to confirm:
No other units were identified in the TRIs ("Transfusion
Related Infection Reports") as having being transfused
to the Recipient during the class period. CBS has confirmed
with Hanna General Hospital that the albumin was 25%. CBS
does not conduct traceback investigations on albumin.
The Blood Bank Record from Foothills Hospital
that three units were cross-matched with respect to the Recipient.
Please note that the TRI received from Foothills Hospital
(attached) indicates that no transfusions were given to the
Upon receipt of the Recipient's transfusion information from
the Hospitals, CBS Calgary input the unit number transfused,
being unit #
into the CBS' Blood Information System
("BLIS database") a computerized information system
that tracks blood donor information. The BLIS database allows
CBS to link unit numbers to the donors of those units. The
donor associated with the unit was identified.
It was determined that the donor associated with unit #
transfused during the class period, subsequently tested negative
for the HC antibody. [The most recent testing results for
the donor associated with the class period was dated 1996-10-31.]
The screening test, which CBS currently uses to detect the
antibody to Hepatitis C, is HCV 3.0 EIA, which came into use
in or about June 1996. Health Canada has approved this screening
test for use in Canada. At the time testing of the donor associated
with unit #
was conducted, the CRCS operated the blood
system in Canada and tested the donor
The HCV EIA screening test is extremely sensitive and occasionally
picks up reactions in healthy individuals who do not have
an infection ("false positives.") If any of the
screening tests show a reaction that might indicate infection,
a further confirmatory test is done to clarify the result.
The screening tests conducted on the donor associated with
the donation in the class period was negative. Therefore,
no confirmatory testing was required.
 Exhibit 4 is a letter provided by the Claimant, authored
by Dr. J. J. Changela, dated May 21, 2002, which states:
This patient is under my care. He has Hepatitis C and had
a full course of treatment, which was done by Dr. Sylwestrowicz.
He is now in the remission stage.
Hepatitis C can be transmitted through blood products,
Albumin intravenous injections and from other major
routs of transmission
 Ms. Miller testified to the effect that albumin is a
component derivative of blood that is manufactured by drug
companies, for example Cutter and Bayer, from blood protein
supplied by multiple donors. It does not require cross matching
and is useful for providing quick fixes. It is stored in what
looks like the old intravenous bottles. While the matter is
not free from debate, there is a considerable body of medical
evidence that supports the conclusion that albumin is not
an HCV transmitter. In this respect, Ms. Miller referred to
Arbitrator Decision # 23, dated November 23, 2001, of Vincent
Orchard, Arbitrator, which outlines the testimony given in
that hearing by Dr. G.H. Growe, Division Head, Hematopathology
and Medical Director of the Blood Transfusion Service at Vancouver
General Hospital and Health Sciences Centre. At paragraph
13, the decision states:
Dr. Growe admitted that it is not absolutely impossible
that albumin may have been infected with the virus and the
amount of albumin administered may be irrelevant; however,
albumin is a blood product that is not known to be associated
with Hepatitis C or with any other transmitted virus.
He believes that since albumin and streptokinase have been
used and are sold all over Canada if there were outbreaks
of viruses in the patients who have been administered these
products, such outbreaks would have come to public attention
or been the cause of investigation.
 In reviewing, Exhibit 2, Ms. Miller noted that there
was indeed confirmation from the Hanna Hospital that the Claimant
had received one 100ML unit of a specified numbered lot of
25% Albumin on October 15, 1988. The Report of TFI confirms
that the Claimant also received packed red blood cells on
the same date, the donor of which ultimately tested negative
for the virus.
 In cross-examination, the Claimant voiced concerns as
to what he perceived as inordinate delays on the part of the
Centre in conducting the traceback. Ms. Miller referred to
the Court Approved Protocol, containing the criteria for the
Traceback Procedure, which allows for a six-month time frame.
In this case, the time period did not start to run until the
Centre had all the information it needed. In this case the
Claimant's physician in the TRAN2 form checked off the box
indicating "prior significant surgeries or trauma".
Further, the subsequent broken ankle and hip replacement that
the Claimant underwent were risk factors. In the result, additional
investigation was required.
 The Claimant also asked Ms. Miller how it was possible
to conclude, from the 1996 testing of the donor of the packed
red cells in question, that the donor did not have the virus
at the time of the transfusion in 1988. He suggested that
the donor be re-tested. Ms. Miller responded that if the donor
did not have the antibody to the virus in 1996, he or she
had never been infected with the virus before then. Re-testing
the donor at this time would be pointless as even if the donor
now tested positive, this would have no bearing on his or
her status in that respect as of 1996 of earlier.
 In his testimony, the Claimant indicated that when he
was 4 he was run over by a car after his sister put the car
out of gear, causing him to require plastic surgery on his
face. He further testified that on October 15, 1988, while
employed working on pipelines near the Hanna Hotel and driving
to Drumheller, it was reported to him that he fell asleep
at the wheel, thereafter sustaining serious injuries. He did
not remember anything while he was hospitalized in Hanna.
He recalls waking up in the air ambulance en route to the
Foothills Hospital in Calgary. He remained in hospital for
6 weeks, with a fractured right pelvis, hip (requiring 6 screws),
partial paralysis, fractured hand and foot. The bones in four
toes were replaced with "steel toes." In February
1996, the Claimant required hip replacement surgery at University
of Alberta Hospital in Edmonton. He became fatigued and ill
in the summer of 1999 or 2000, after which numerous tests
were conducted, which unfortunately confirmed the presence
of the HCV. He called the Foothills Hospital and was informed
that he had received no blood products there. He called the
Hanna Hospital and was informed that their health records
are destroyed after 10 years and that his were no longer available.
He is in remission at this time.
 The following are the material findings of fact in this
(a) The Claimant is infected with Hepatitis C.
(b) The probable source of such infection was not established
(c) The Claimant did receive one 100 ml unit of 25% Albumin
in Hanna on October 15, 1988.
(d) Although he was transfused with one unit of packed blood
cells in Hanna on October 15, 1988, the Traceback showed that
the donor had tested negative for the HCV, using the most
advanced testing available, namely EIA Gen 3.0.
(e) The Claimant did not receive any blood products while
hospitalized subsequently for six weeks at the Foothills Hospital
(f) Accordingly, while the Claimant has established that he
received a transfusion of blood products during the Class
Period, he was unable to establish that the donor of such
products was infected with the virus.
 While the Claimant's notice of appeal focused on the
issue of Albumin, at the hearing, the Claimant continued to
express concerns as to the traceback procedure with respect
to the packed blood cells. Therefore, both issues need to
 It is beyond doubt that a Referee's jurisdiction to
award compensation to a Claimant is circumscribed by the definition
of "Blood" in Article 1.01 of the Plan. Notwithstanding
Dr. Changela's views that HCV can be transmitted through Albumin
intravenous injections, Albumin 25% is specifically excluded
from the definition of "blood." The wording of the
Plan Text makes it abundantly clear that the framers did not
intend Albumin 25% to fall within the range of potentially
 This limitation on the jurisdiction of an arbitrator
or referee under the Plan is reiterated in the following cases,
all of which resulted in the inevitable denial of claims to
entitlement to benefits under the Plan where the products
received by the Claimant were specifically excluded from the
definition of "Blood" in the Plan Text:
Arbitrator Decision # 23, November 23, 2001 (Vincent
R.K. Orchard, Arbitrator), involving the administration of
Streptokinase, an enzyme used to dissolve blood clots, which
is chemically suspended in albumin.
Unconfirmed Referee Decision # 3, June 1, 2001 (Reva
Devins, Referee), involving the receipt of Rh Immune Globulin,
another product excluded from the definition of "blood"
in the Plan Text.
Unconfirmed Referee Decision # 6, June 11, 2001 (Shelly
L. Miller, Q.C.), involving the receipt of IV gamma globulin
(also known as intravenous Immune Globulin), another product
that is specifically excluded from the definition of "Blood".
 In the result, to the extent that the Claimant has relied
on the receipt of Albumin in support of his claim, his appeal
 With respect to the Claimant's concerns relative to
the traceback, some of these may have indeed been addressed
to his satisfaction by Ms. Miller's testimony. The Claimant
appears to have relied more on the Albumin issue in any case.
The Administrator followed the Court Approved Protocol containing
the Criteria for Traceback Procedures for Primarily Infected
Persons. Having done so, it was then obligated to apply the
provisions of the Plan text, which provide:
3.04 Traceback Procedure
(1) Notwithstanding any other provision of this Agreement,
if the results of a Traceback Procedure demonstrate that
none of the donors or units of Blood received by
a Primarily-Infected Person
during the Class Period
is or was HCV Antibody positive, subject to the provisions
of Section 3.04(2), the Administrator must reject the Claim
(2) A Claimant may prove that the relevant Primarily-Infected
was infected, for the first time, with HCV by
a Blood transfusion received in Canada during the Class Period
notwithstanding the results of the Traceback Procedure.
For greater certainty, the costs of obtaining evidence to
refute the Traceback Procedure must be paid by the claimant
unless otherwise ordered by a Referee, Arbitrator or Court.
 Fund Counsel candidly acknowledged that there have been
no Arbitrator/Referee or Court cases to date that have allowed
a Claimant to "prove that he was infected with HCV by
a Blood transfusion received in Canada during the Class period,
notwithstanding the results of the Traceback Procedure."
From a Referee's perspective, what is troubling is the issue
of how a Claimant could successfully meet the reverse onus
imposed by Section 3.04(2) of the Plan text, given the Claimant's
lack of access to the donor's private records. That will have
to remain an issue for another day, as particularly given
the Claimant's focus on the Albumin 25% issue, there was simply
no evidence adduced in this case that could allow a Referee
to conclude that the Claimant had "refuted the results
of the Traceback Procedure." It must be doubly frustrating
for the Claimant in that, not only did he establish that he
received Albumin 25% during the Class Period, but he was in
fact able to establish the threshold requirement that a blood
transfusion was received during the Class Period. However,
regrettably for the Claimant, he was unable to establish that
the packed blood cells so received were infected with the
HCV. Therefore, while there is a considerable temptation to
wish to assist the Claimant, if the evidence allowed one to
do so, in this case, there was simply no evidence adduced
that would allow the findings from this process to be disturbed.
To the extent that the Claimant still relies on the transfusion
of packed cells in support of his appeal, the appeal must
 The Claimant is not entitled to receive compensation.
The Administrator has an obligation to assess each claim and
determine whether or not the required proof for compensation
exists. The Administrator has no discretion to allow compensation
where the required proof does not exist. The financial sufficiency
of the Fund depends upon the Administrator properly scrutinizing
each claim and determining whether the Claimant qualifies.
A Referee similarly has no jurisdiction to alter, enlarge
or disregard the terms of the Settlement Agreement or Plan,
or to extend or modify coverage, whether in connection with
the definition of "blood" on the issue of Albumin
25% or the reverse onus contained in Section 3.04(2) of the
 Upon careful consideration of the Settlement Agreement,
Plan, Court orders and the viva voce and documentary evidence
tendered, the Administrator's denial of the Claimant's application
for compensation is hereby upheld.
Dated at Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, this 5th day of September
DANIEL SHAPIRO, Q.C.