TM Campaign Raises Funds for Hepatitis

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The Hepatitis Research Foundation, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, has built a call center to support a campaign to raise donations for Edmonton's hepatitis-C epidemic.


"We approached different fundraisers and they were all too expensive, so we decided to build our own [call center]," said William Harrison, founder and president of the Hepatitis Research Foundation.


Though hepatitis-C has been spreading throughout the world, Edmonton has the worst outbreak, with 40,000 to 50,000 people afflicted with the disease. Approximately 250 percent more people are dying from hepatitis-C, the worst strain of the disease, than AIDS, according Harrison.


The fundraising campaign will be conducted jointly by The Hepatitis Research Foundation and National Foundation for Hepatitis-C, also based in Canada. The campaign is being conducted through outbound solicitations and inbound calls. A membership drive for the Hepatitis Research Foundation is being conducted simultaneously.


"We are trying to average $3,000 a day in donations," Harrison said. "The donation for membership is $25, and the average donation ranges from $10 to $30."


"A lot of people were looking to the federal and provincial governments for help, but we decided to do our own fundraising to support research without bothering the government," said Harrison. "We are looking to open more call centers throughout Canada to regionalize the campaign. We haven't yet applied for any government grants."


The call center was built solely by the Hepatitis Research Foundation. It was built at a cost of $250,000 and opened on Nov. 23, in Edmonton.


The center was built with the assistance of Teles, a Canadian teleservices company and is staffed by 18 teleservices professionals. The center will be equipped to handle 40 agents next year. Agents work exclusively for the Hepatitis Research Foundation.


Harrison said he is not sure why Edmonton has so many hepatitis-C cases but said that the government may have purchased blood that was tainted from the United States.


"Our country purchased blood that was taken from prisoners in Arkansas, but if that is the blood here in Edmonton, I don't know," he said. "Now when the country purchases blood it has to be thoroughly screened before it comes into the country. Buying blood [without screening or knowing who the donors were] was standard practice."


The Provincial Government of Ontario is compensating those stricken with the disease and the Research Foundation is trying to get other provinces to follow suit.
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