The grave of Richard Jason Oliver, the Warrenton, Va., infant who died in February 1984 after contracting acquired immune deficiency syndrome through a blood transfusion, now has a headstone.
The child's parents, Lisa and Richard Oliver, went into debt paying medical expenses not covered by their health insurance and could not afford a headstone.
The couple also was sued by the University of Virginia Hospital at Charlottesville, where their son received the fatal transfusion as a premature infant, for failure to pay $3,000 remaining from his hospitalization.
The Olivers were not told their 14-month-old son Jason had AIDS until they learned after his death that three other infants were made ill by the same batch of blood he had received.
The hospital's administrator, Dr. John Ashley, explained the lawsuit, saying, "As long as the care issued to a patient was appropriate and we can justify the charges, we're required to pursue a debt." He said the hospital staff did not use the term AIDS with the family because it is "medical jargon" and "not appropriate for an infant."
After a Post article appeared on the situation, the hospital dropped its lawsuit against the Olivers. Ashley said the hospital erred in not treating the case as an exception to its usual practices.
Joseph Poldiak, the owner of an Arlington monument company, read that the child was without a headstone and called the family. "I didn't want anyone to know about it," he said. "God has been good to me and I wanted to help."
He and his wife designed a white marble headstone and had it installed on Jason's grave in the municipal cemetery in Warrenton.
"It's beautiful," said Lisa Oliver. "It has helped a lot to know there are people out there I can trust. Going through this ordeal with Jason, I don't even trust a doctor. It's so nice that he cares about a poor innocent child."
The fate of the other three infants who received the contaminated blood is not known. A medical journal article said the hospital has lost track of one infant, who returned home to Kuwait.
The other infants showed signs of immunological problems during their hospitalization, but the hospital would not release information on their current health status.