John Plater, man who fought for tainted blood victims, dead at 45
John Plater, the man who fought to get compensation for people infected in Canada’s tainted blood scandal, died on Saturday.
He was 45.
Plater, a lawyer, died of complications from the HIV and hepatitis C he contracted from tainted blood in the 1980s.
Plater used his legal training to fight for compensation for the thousands of people, including hemophiliacs like him, infected by tainted blood. He worked tirelessly to help people navigate the complex legal system, his work voicemail saying he was still checking messages despite being away and sick.
Some of the people he represented, like Michael McCarthy, became close friends.
“John Plater was a man who was bigger than life and put everyone before himself,” said McCarthy, 53, a hemophiliac who contracted hepatitis C in 1984 from tainted blood traced to a prison in Arkansas.
“I don’t think he had one speck of self-pity,” said McCarthy. “He accepted his lot in life and decided whatever happened to him, he could turn it into something better for somebody else.”
McCarthy remembers Plater’s “booming, powerful voice” in court, demanding attention to the issue of tainted blood.
The 1993 Krever inquiry resulted in a 1997 report calling for a tighter regulation of blood services, recommending compensation for all victims of the tainted blood scandal.
“Canada’s indebted to John Plater. With his efforts, we now have one of the safest blood systems in the world,” said McCarthy.
The tight-knit hemophilia community will remember Plater as a “blood brother,” said McCarthy.
Plater served as president of Hemophilia Ontario from 2002 to 2005. He was a committee chair at the Canadian Hemophilia Society for 12 years.
McCarthy remembers Plater being inseparable from fellow lawyer and hemophiliac James Kreppner who also contracted HIV and hepatitis C from tainted blood.
Kreppner also died of complications from HIV and hepatitis C in 2009 at the age of 47.
“John and James were such credible people who were able to articulate what needed to be done,” said McCarthy. “They were incredibly effective.”
Plater rejected the pity associated with being an “innocent victim” of HIV and hepatitis C."
The fierce patients’ rights advocate believed everybody deserved compassion in care, regardless of how they contracted their disease, said McCarthy.
“A lot of other people wouldn’t be alive today without his actions. He made a difference to thousands of people.”