York grad was an HIV/hepatitis C activist

James Kreppner (LLB ’89, BA ’96) lived in the glare of the national spotlight that illuminated the questionable safety of Canada’s blood supply in the 1980s. An alumnus of York University, he is described by friends and colleagues as an extraordinary human being. On Thursday, May 14, at the young age of 47, Mr. Kreppner lost his two-decade-long battle to live, succumbing to complications caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and hepatitis C.

Left: James Kreppner

He contracted the two life-threatening conditions from tainted blood given to him during the mid-1980s for treatment of a severe form of hemophilia, known as hemophilia A, a genetic condition that made it difficult for his blood to clot. At the time, Mr. Kreppner was a student at York University and was just 25 when he learned that he had contracted the viruses. He went on to receive a bachelor of laws degree from Osgoode Hall Law School and later completed a BA in political science.

Mr. Kreppner used his brilliant legal mind and understanding of the political process to become a highly respected, articulate and exemplary activist for those living with HIV/AIDS, hepatitis and hemophilia. He is perhaps best known for his role as one of the lead plaintiffs in a class action lawsuit that was launched to secure hepatitis C compensation, which resulted in a $1.1-billion settlement for Canadians who became infected with the virus through tainted blood.

In addition to his role as an activist, Mr. Kreppner devoted his life to making the Canadian blood supply safe. He was a member of the board of directors of the Canadian Blood Services, co-founder of the Canadian Treatment Action Council, one of the founders of the Toronto People with AIDS Foundation, and sat on numerous other boards and committees including the Canadian Hemophilia Society and the HIV & AIDS Legal Clinic (Ontario), each of which benefited from his legal expertise, drive and compassion for others.

The recipient of many honours and awards for his tireless efforts during his too short life, Mr. Kreppner received the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal awarded by the Governor General of Canada, the City of Toronto Gardiner Award for Citizen of the Year, the Canadian Association for HIV Research (CAHR) Special Award for his role in encouraging research in the field of hepatitis C-HIV co-infection and the CAHR Red Ribbon Award for his work in AIDS advocacy. His was one of the first names put on the Ontario AIDS Network Honour Roll, celebrating outstanding achievement in HIV/AIDS advocacy. In spite of the honours, he always considered his ultimate reward the continuing ability to be able to do something that helped others. He also played one of the leading roles in initiating the Commission of Inquiry on the Blood System in Canada.

An immediate private family service is planned. An announcement of a larger public memorial and celebration of Mr. Kreppner’s life and work is to come.

Mr. Kreppner leaves his wife Antonia (Smudge) Swann (BA Spec. Hons. ’89). He is predeceased by parents Rudolf and Marie (nee Karl), second mother Gerda (Gitt) and oldest brother Walter. He leaves his sister Hilda, brothers John, Joe and Bill, and many other family members. 

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made in Mr. Kreppner’s name to the Toronto and Central Ontario Regional Hemophilia Society, located at 45 Charles St. E., Suite 802, Toronto, Ontario, M4Y 1S2. The society can be contacted at 416- 924-3446 or toll free 1-888-838-8846, or by e-mail to tcor@hemophilia.on.ca.