Overall the hearings were sad and hard hitting, particularly when you see how being given infected blood has affected these people and how the ripple effects from the loss of those that have passed is still creating misery. It never ceases to amaze me to hear of the poor treatment of those infected.
Martin Martin described how his mum had to watch his dad die slowly and how she was his carer for many years. It was very emotive when he said “you don’t have to win to be a hero – my dad is my hero”
Carol Carol was attending to give evidence regarding her late husband who had lived with haemophilia B and was also one of the founders of the Contaminated Blood Group. She described him as a very loving man that loved to travel and had a great sense of humour. It is believed that he was given infected blood during dental procedures in 1989 even after he requested to not be given Factor 9 blood products. He’d had previous dental procedures in 1979 and also one in America in 1980 where they warned him that blood products may be infected with HIV and hepatitis. This is why he declined to have the products on standby in case he had a bleed. He was diagnosed HCV positive in October 1989 which was 6 months after the dental procedure as he was complaining of brain fog and being tired, he didn’t link these symptoms to his haemophilia as he had always managed these quite well. A letter was exhibited from 1990 stating he “had gotten over HCV” and that all his tests show a great improvement in his health.
This however was not the case and the symptoms continued so in 2001 so he asked to go on interferon treatment which was subsequently refused due to “no funding for treatment”. After reading an article shortly after this of a prisoner complaining of side effects of interferon treatment he got very upset and demanded this decision be overturned and he completed 12 months of interferon that was unsuccessful. Two years later he had another attempt that he stopped very early as it made him quite poorly and finally a third attempt that was stopped by the hospital quite early as he developed side effects that led to pulmonary fibrosis which later in life played a big part in his death. Carol asked for hepatitis to be included on his death certificate and was accused of wanting evidence of liver damage examined for financial gain so she could claim funds from the Skipton Fund. However, this was not the case at all.
Mrs ATHer late husband passed away in his very early 70’s of illnesses associated with hepatitis B/HIV, that he had contracted after receiving infected blood early in his life. He was described as a very intelligent, driven and sociable character who was a great father to two children and some grandchildren. His widow spoke of the stigma that was attached to HIV in the early 80’s when he was diagnosed and how they had to keep it a secret.
The hearing produced a document from the hospital written by Professor Bloom dated 1975 that clearly stated that Factor 8 freeze dried blood products contained a small percentage of “hepatitis” which was never seen by the victim or family. In the early 1990’s he was also diagnosed as being HCV positive for antibodies but he managed to clear it naturally. However, because he had cleared the virus in this way he was notallowed to receive any of the ex-gratia payments.
Understandably this was distressing so they made complaints and a few years later the decision was overturned, but this doesn’t take away the stress they had to go through to get what they were entitled to.