A former El Toro Marine who successfully sued the U.S. government for infecting his late wife and son with the AIDS virus died Friday from complications stemming from acquired immune deficiency syndrome.
Chief Warrant Officer Martin Gaffney, 42, died at Massachusetts General Hospital Friday morning, his lawyer, Jaclyn McKenney, said. The Boston native and son of a Garden Grove resident will be buried with full military honors at Lowell, Mass., on Tuesday.
Gaffney received a $3.8-million check from the federal government nine days ago, McKenney said. The money will be used to care for his 8-year-old daughter, Maureene, the only surviving member of the family.
Gaffney had been awarded the money in April, 1990, when a federal judge found that Navy doctors gave his pregnant wife AIDS-tainted blood. She then passed the fatal ailment to their son, John, and to Gaffney.
But the Justice Department took until Oct. 9 to decide not to appeal the judge’s ruling. That decision was reached after Gaffney, who became seriously ill in August, appeared on several television shows lambasting the government.
“He regretted it took so long and that he did not have healthy times to spend with (his daughter),” McKenney said.
Gaffney filed suit in 1987, shortly before his wife, Matsuko, died. The suit sought $55 million and alleged that the transfusion given to his wife during a 1981 pregnancy by doctors at Long Beach Naval Hospital would not have been necessary if she had received proper treatment.
Gaffney was stationed at the El Toro Marine Corps Air Station at the time.
A federal judge in Boston ruled in Gaffney’s favor and awarded him $3.8 million.
McKenney said Gaffney’s brother and sister-in-law will care for his daughter, who thus far has shown no signs of AIDS.
The lawyer said Gaffney was bitter toward the Justice Department and Navy doctors, but not the Marines Corps.
Fellow Marines looked after his daughter and gave a hand any time Gaffney needed it, McKenney said.
Gaffney is survived by his daughter; his mother, Donna George of Garden Grove, and two brothers and three sisters.