Elkhart man faces felonies for donating HIV-contaminated plasma

The suspect, a 31-year-old Elkhart man, denied in a questionnaire that he had been diagnosed with HIV.

Posted on Aug. 7, 2014 at 2:00 p.m.

ELKHART — An Elkhart man is facing felony charges after he donated plasma while knowing he was infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

Police arrested James Darrell Williams, 31, on Aug. 3 on a warrant for one count of transferring contaminated body fluids and three counts of attempt to transfer contaminated body fluids. Both charges are class C felonies.

According to court documents filed in Elkhart Superior Court 2, Williams was diagnosed with the virus in June 2009. He attempted to donate plasma at BioLife Plasma Services, 2715 Emerson Drive, on Dec. 23 and 24, 2013, and Feb. 1, 2014, but was denied because his blood pressure was too high.

Williams successfully donated plasma on Jan. 28, 2014, and received a payment of $30.

When donating plasma, Williams had to fill out a 99-item health history questionnaire in which he responded “no” to a question asking if he had ever been diagnosed with HIV or AIDS. Another form he signed at the time of the donation said that anyone who knowingly donated blood or plasma while infected with HIV was committing a class C felony, according to court documents.

BioLife tests every donation it receives for diseases such as hepatitis and HIV and periodically tests donors themselves to ensure the health of the donors and the safety of the donated plasma, said Kellie Hotz, a spokeswoman for BioLife’s parent company, Baxter International.

All donations are placed in an “inventory hold” for 60 days after they are collected so that they can be easily retrieved if any of the tests come back positive, ensuring that infected donations are not processed further, Hotz wrote in an email.

It is BioLife’s policy to notify the state health department of positive HIV tests results within one week of obtaining the results.

An investigator from the Indiana State Department of Health contacted Elkhart police detectives on April 10, 2014, and provided documentation of Williams’ 2009 positive HIV test, which included his signature acknowledging the result, and informed them that Williams had donated plasma at BioLife.

Detectives contacted Williams on April 16 and he admitted knowing he had HIV and still donating plasma. In another interview with police on April 21, he said he had lost his job and donated plasma because he needed money.

Formal charges were filed against Williams and a warrant for his arrest was issued on July 1, according to court records.

He is currently held in the Elkhart County Jail on a $25,000 bond and is scheduled for a court appearance at 1:30 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 11.

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