3. How Could It Happen and Nobody Did Anything Wrong?
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22 3 How Could It Happen and Nobody Did Anything Wrong? It was June 21, 1991, at exactly 1 P.M., when Andrea Johnson and her daughter , Jaime, walked into Weinberg’s life. As he went to his office foyer to greet them, he saw that Andrea relied on a cane and her teenage daughter’s arm for support. Andrea looked almost too frail to handle the few stone steps outside his office. She was young and pretty, her face nearly perfect, symmetrical and fine like a porcelain doll. As she stood, Weinberg saw that she could not straighten up to her full height. Andrea and Jaime introduced themselves and went to his conference room, Andrea sitting down heavily, Jaime next to her. He could see they were apprehensive. “I’m sorry to be so clumsy,” Andrea said. “It’s this darned multiple sclerosis I have on top of everything else.” She looked at Weinberg closely, made strong eye contact, and spoke without a hint of self-pity. He immediately liked her. “I was thinking that was what you have,” Weinberg said. “My mother has MS.” “Really? Where does she go?” “Robert Wood Johnson Hospital. Dr. LePore.” “That’s my doctor. He’s terrific,” Andrea said. “It really is a small world,” Weinberg agreed. “Sure is.” HOW COULD IT HAPPEN? 23 “Well, if you’re a friend of Joe, you have my sincerest sympathies,” Weinberg joked, referring to Joe Salgado, his former colleague who had referred her to him. “He’s a good person,” she said, smiling. “He told me you might be interested in what happened to my husband, and I guess to me. I asked him if there was a legal case and he said to talk with you.” “Why don’t you tell me everything you think I should know, Andrea? Just so you know, before you came here today, I did a little reading about hemophilia and HIV. Just take your time and walk me through everything ,” Weinberg said. From talking to her on the phone, he already knew a key fact: Andrea had contracted HIV from having sex with her husband, before they knew he was infected. “I don’t really know where to start,” she replied. “Tell me about Clyde.” “He was a good father,” Andrea said, looking at Jaime for affirmation. Jaime smiled. Weinberg thought of his own father, and knew something about Jaime’s pain in that moment. His sons were quite young. He imagined what it had meant to her, having to watch as her father died, slowly and agonizingly. For this young woman to know her mother might suffer the same kind of death seemed unbearably unfair. “He shouldn’t have died the way he did,” Andrea said. “I don’t understand why it happened, and I need to know if someone was responsible— you know, if it had to be the way it was. Did Clyde have to die from AIDS?” There was nothing in Weinberg’s experience to prepare him for what had happened to this family. Clyde, a diesel mechanic with a good job, had died of AIDS complications in August 1989. Before that, the Johnsons had been living a good, middle-class life, with one exception. Clyde was born with hemophilia Type A, a hereditary disorder of the blood that meant he had less than the normal amount of a clotting protein called Factor VIII.1 It made him highly susceptible to internal bleeding following even minor bumps and bruises. Sometimes he would have bleeding episodes spontaneously, seemingly for no reason at all. BLOOD ON THEIR HANDS 24 Andrea pulled a family portrait—Clyde, Andrea, and Jaime, smiling and looking happy in formal clothes—from her handbag and placed it on Weinberg’s conference table. “Clyde and I started dating in high school,” she said. “He was a really funny person, and I just fell in love with him. He told me he had hemophilia and he had to take blood sometimes, because of the bleeding. So it was a part of our lives but not so much, because he just dealt with it. He was good with cars and engines. He always wanted to be a mechanic, and he was a good one. At the garage he was one of the best.” “How was he able to do that with his hemophilia?” Weinberg asked. “See,” Andrea said, “that’s what people don’t understand about hemophilia . It’s not so much...


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