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US blood industry's role in Sandinista Revolution (Managua)


During the Protected content and beyond, manufacturers of human blood fractions in the United States were purchasing raw source plasma from independent plasma harvesting facilities throughout Latin America and the Caribbean Basin. One such facility in Nicaragua was doing business as Centro America de Plasmaferesis SA. It was established by Dr. Pedro Ramos, a Cuban exile, and was at least partially owned by Nicaragua’s president, Anastasio Somoza. From Protected content 1977, it is estimated that the firm collected 60,000 to 300,000 donations per year, with an annual export varying from 37,000 to over 200,000 liters of source plasma over the same period.

U.S. human blood fractionators such as Abbott, Armour, Cutter, Hyland, and others were reported as importers of source plasma under the U.S. government’s so-called “short –supply” provisions governing vital resources whenever they certified that such resources were, in fact, in short-supply within the United States. They claim the fact that they could purchase the source plasma from abroad at a small fraction of the domestic supply price did not factor into their decisions.

The Nicaraguan human blood plasma harvesting operations played a significant role in helping to provoke the Sandinista Revolution, during which all of Dr. Ramos’ harvesting facilities were burned to the ground, abruptly ending the flow of source plasma through the pipeline and ironically creating a temporary shortage, or short-supply, of some human plasma products in the United States. Lamb’s Blood is a novel based on the stain this practice has left on the pages of our nation’s history. It is interesting to note that these “short-supply” provisions governing vital resources remain in the laws regulating the U.S. human blood industry.

Lamb’s Blood is set in Washington, D.C., Boston, and Nicaragua in Protected content . The story follows American journalist Mark Marino as he connects three murders with a Boston-based blood company and a Nicaraguan dictator. Marino lives with the knowledge that he allowed officials to lie to him when he was a war correspondent in Vietnam. He feels in some way responsible for those who died in that conflict, one of whom was his own brother. A decade later he witnesses an assassination attempt and a murder at Washington National Airport and, recognizing an opportunity to redeem himself, he resolves to bring the killer to justice. His mission leads him to Boston, where he is reacquainted with two colleagues, Tony Rosati, and his daughter, Rina, with whom he falls in love. They discover a link between the killer, Carlos Tortue, a Vietnam veteran, and a Boston-based manufacturer of human blood products. Tortue then kills a policeman and a journalist in Boston and escapes to Nicaragua with Marino in pursuit.

Marino covered the Managua earthquake in December of Protected content is no stranger to Nicaragua, He immediately tries to find two men he met at that time: José Velasquez, a fellow journalist, and Padre Las Casas, a Roman Catholic barrio priest. Both are sympathetic to the Sandinista revolutionaries. Rina Rosati joins Marino in Managua and Las Casas arranges for them to meet with a rebel commander who allows them to accompany him and his comrades on a raid against a clinic that trades in peasant blood for export not knowing that Tortue is also involved in the operation. (See Blog at Protected content )

Lamb’s Blood, ISBN Protected content , 214 pages, is available in paperback for $10.95 through local bookstores, Protected content , and Amazon’s Kindle Store ($2.99)

Jerry Genesio is also the author of two non-fiction books. This is his second novel. He has a B.A. degree in History from the University of Southern Maine, and was employed as a Human Blood Specialist representing a major blood products manufacturer for nearly two decades. He traveled in Nicaragua during the Contra counter-revolution and returned to lobby the U.S. Congress in opposition to U.S. interference in that conflict. During the Protected content , Jerry worked with a United Nations Non-Governmental Organization providing medical and humanitarian aid to Central American children victimized by war. And in the Protected content he participated in the evacuation of and arranged for medical/surgical/rehab care for over Protected content , Croatian, Serbia, and Kosovan children wounded in the recent wars between the former Yugoslav republics. ##