Day 50 of the Infected Blood Inquiry hearings, London

Our colleague who attended on this day for the first time told us that he found there to be an air of deep sadness, anger and deep frustrations.

He described how he was humbled by the feeling of quietness and calm as he listened to witnesses give their testimonies and kept repeatedly getting the feeling that “something wasn’t quite right” as each of the anonymous witnesses told their stories. He said it was clear that that they had all been betrayed and not told the truth about things.

We would encourage anyone interested to watch or read the evidence online from this particularly harrowing day.

“Frankie”
As one witness told her story, she informed the hearing that she attended her GP surgery in the mid 1980s. She asked her doctor for an AIDS test as this was in the public eye at the time and she was worried about it, but her doctor told her “stop being silly” and that she didn’t need a test. She told the Inquiry that at the time she was pregnant and decided to have an abortion because she thought she might be infected, though she subsequently tested negative. She went on to describe the feeling of remorse and deep loss because she was influenced to make the decision to abort her unborn child as she was so fearful of what she had seen on the TV about AIDS.

She later ended up leaving her husband who was a haemophiliac who had been infected with HIV because the stress on her family had been so immense

In 1997-8 she became very ill, lost lots of weight, became violently sick on New Year’s Day and after having many tests, later in 1999 she was again back in hospital as she was unwell. It was then she was told she was HIV positive and it was apparent that she had been for years. She went on to explain lots of side effects from various treatments and medications which resulted in opportunistic infections on a regular basis and severe problems with her hips. Frankie described her experience of 35 years of stress, worry and fear. She mentioned several forms of counselling and therapy she had undergone relating to trauma and that she had not been able to live a normal life.

She described how the MacFarlane Trust had labelled her an “infected intimate” and she and her husband had not been recognised for who they were and she was refused any form of payments from the scheme.

Amanda
Amanda shared her experience and about her life with Andrew, her late husband who was a haemophiliac. He was offered Factor VIII to “try”.

She went on to say that this was in fact part of an experiment that they knew nothing about at the time and that no one had ever asked them if they were willing to take part.  

It wasn’t until the early 1980s that his doctor was on a World in Action documentary talking about how “lots of haemophiliacs have been infected with HIV contaminated blood”.

Her husband later tested positive for HIV at St Thomas’ Hospital. She went on to describe their experience when trying to have a baby safely through a sperm washing program taking place in Italy. She described applying for funds to help but kept being told it was not possible and given various excuses as to why she and her husband was ineligible which to this day still haunts her. She went on to tell the inquiry how her husband passed away in a hospice.

In her powerful closing words she said: “My husband, Andrew, was one of many with haemophilia who were not just considered worthless, expendable, cheaper than chimpanzees to experiment on, but were considered to be an unnecessary drain on public resources, so could be given treatment that was expected to drastically reduce their numbers. I know this Inquiry does not have the power to bring about criminal prosecutions, but I sincerely hope it will be allowed to run its course and will expose the attitudes and actions of politicians, civil servants and medics with such clarity that those who do have the power to prosecute will have no option but to do so, and thereby bring about the justice deserved by the haemophiliacs, those they unintentionally infected and their families.

“As they face the possibility of being called to give account for their actions, may those involved in the chain of decisions and events that caused the pain, suffering and deaths of so many, now take their turn at being the ones to lie awake in the night fearing what the future may hold”.