The first witness of the final day of the first of the eleven weeks of oral evidence hearings was Matthew Johnson. He is a haemophiliac who suffers with severe haemophilia B, which used to be known as Christmas disease, which means he is Factor IX deficient.
Matthew’s evidence was very emotional and discussed the impact being diagnosed with hepatitis C had, not just on him, but on his parents, his siblings and his partner and 2 young children. He also said that he was giving evidence not just for himself but for the people who were no longer here to speak for themselves.
Matthew also talked about the risk of being exposed to vCJD and the impact this has had on his everyday life.
At the end of his evidence Matthew described his wish for the outcome of the Inquiry as hoping for something good to come out of it, for it never to be repeated and for the necessary people to be held accountable.
The second witness of the day was Jacqui Britton who received contaminated blood via a blood transfusion in the 1980’s. In 2011 Jacqui was diagnosed with hepatitis C.
Jacqui has campaigned for a number of years and discussed a number of ways she believes that diagnosis, testing and treatment of hepatitis C could be improved.
Her final statement to the Inquiry to close her evidence was that so many lives have been cut short and families devastated. She hopes the Inquiry can be a fitting epitaph to the dead and a written memorial that can no longer be ignored. She hopes the Inquiry will result in the living being able to live their lives without having to campaign for justice.
The final witness of the final day of week one of the hearing was Joan Edgington. Joan received blood via a blood transfusion in 191. In 1995 Joan was diagnosed with hepatitis C.
Joan spoke in her evidence of the symptoms she has experienced since clearing hepatitis C and the non-specific symptoms she has experienced over the years. Joan discussed the permanent side effects of hepatitis C treatment that do not appear to be discussed by her medical practitioners.
Joan also discussed the benefits system where hepatitis C doesn’t fit in the current benefits criteria and she called for a change in this.
All three of the witnesses who provided evidence on the final day of week one described brain fog and a feeling of extreme fatigue even after clearing the hepatitis C infection. All of the witnesses have struggled due to the infection and their symptoms associated with hepatitis C which have had a negative impact on all three witnesses.
After 4 emotional days of evidence what is evident is the strength and dignity of all of those providing oral evidence and the support they are receiving from their family, friends and all of those in attendance at the hearings.