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A class action lawsuit filed Wednesday in San Antonio alleges that the state health department "deceptively and unlawfully sold, traded, bartered, and distributed blood samples" from thousands of newborns in exchange for fees, lab equipment and other purposes.
The suit alleges that the use of the blood samples was an unlawful "search and seizure" that violated "fundamental privacy rights" of the children and possibly their relatives.
Jim Harrington, director of the nonprofit that filed the suit, said that during the settlement negotiations, he and the parents repeatedly asked about other uses for the blood. The health department never disclosed that some blood spots were swapped for laboratory equipment or sold to private companies in exchange for supplies or cash, he said. Nor were they told that 800 spots were sent to a database the U.S. Department of Defense was building to aid in criminal investigations and missing persons cases, he said.
Higgins, 49, said he favors research and would have said yes, if asked. But he is deeply concerned about a military database and future repercussions for his daughter, now 3, because he said what is legal today could be illegal tomorrow. He added that he opposes having companies profit from his daughter's blood.