An esteemed member of the CAC, he was recently recognized by the Canadian Hemophilia Society for forty years of advocacy on behalf of people with bleeding disorders
Guy-Henri Godin, a dedicated and long-serving member of the CTN Community Advisory Committee (CAC), has been recognized for his outstanding contributions by receiving the John Plater Advocacy Award from the Canadian Hemophilia Society (CHS).
Established in 1953, the CHS is a national voluntary health charity that advocates to improve the health and quality of life for all people in Canada living with an inherited bleeding disorder. It now has chapters in every province. Every two years, the CHS honours individuals who have made a significant contribution to enhancing the quality of life of people with bleeding disorders. The 2023 CHS National Awards ceremony was held on May 6th in Niagara Falls, Ontario.
Guy-Henri is the longest serving member of the CAC, representing the Canadian Hemophilia Society since 2013. In the 1980s, Guy-Henri received blood contaminated with HIV and hepatitis C virus during treatment for his severe hemophilia. Ever since, he has been an impassioned activist for hemophiliacs, particularly those who were exposed to blood containing HIV or hepatitis C virus. This award celebrates his four decades of social involvement, advocacy work, and his unwavering fight for the rights of Canadian hemophiliacs. “I started volunteering for the Quebec Chapter of the CHS when I was 18, before I started university. It is a tremendous honour to be recognized, and the news came as a delightful surprise,” said Guy-Henri. “I found out about my nomination a couple of months ago and celebrated with a lovely dinner with my wife.”
Guy-Henri is the inaugural recipient of the John Plater award, established to pay tribute to the exceptional work of John Plater, a tireless advocate for the rights of individuals with bleeding disorders, HIV, and hepatitis C. Like Guy-Henri, Plater fought to improve care and treatment, for a safer blood system, and for the right to financial compensation for those with bleeding disorders infected with HIV and hepatitis C through the blood system. Guy-Henri has a deep understanding of John Plater’s work, who was also a CAC member for four years before he died.
“Along with James Krepner and Ian de Abreu, who were also CAC members, Plater and I fought relentlessly to get a public inquiry into the Tainted Blood Scandal,” recalled Guy-Henri, who practiced law in Montreal for more than 30 years. Eventually, the Commission of Inquiry on the Blood System in Canada was launched, publishing its results in 1997.
During their campaign for an inquiry, Guy-Henri had a strong media presence and has now given over 100 interviews on radio and television. He is also a prolific writer, shedding light on life with HIV in his book, ‘The Sacrificed Hemophiliacs,’ which he hopes will be published soon. On top of that, he teaches at the University of Montreal’s medical school, inspiring the next generation of clinicians.
“This award is a once in a lifetime honour. It is incredibly special and humbling to be compared to people like John Plater,” he said.
His motivation for activism and community involvement stems from his desire to ensure that future generations do not endure the same hardships he has faced. “At 58, I am acutely aware that I am lucky to be alive and to have witnessed the considerable progress made in treatments during my lifetime. However, there is still no cure for HIV and many of the damages to my body are irreversible,” he said. Nevertheless, he remains hopeful, sharing, “I hope that those born yesterday or next week will have a better life than mine, with fewer hospitalizations and opportunities to play more sports. Perhaps the next milestone will be the elimination of HIV from our organs and lymph nodes — the infamous reservoirs. I hope to see and live that!”
In the meantime, Guy-Henri continues his advocacy work and actively contributes to research whenever possible, particularly in the field of pain management for people living with HIV and bleeding disorders.
In 2021, Guy-Henri wrote a piece for the CTN, The Team Player, offering a personal insight into his work and his other passion, hockey!