Beginning today’s oral evidence was Della Hirsch. Della’s family did not have a history of haemophilia, however it was discovered that her son Nick had the condition when he was a baby. Nick contracted hepatitis C and HIV through contaminated blood products.
Della told the Inquiry how relatives she had in the US had called her in the early 1980s to inform her that many people who are considered to be on the edge of society had been donating blood. Upon hearing this Della became insistent that her son was not to receive any US blood products. Della described how on one occasion she was informed by medical professionals at a London hospital that the British products had run out and therefore they had would have no choice but to give him US products.
Della informed the Inquiry of the mistreatment her son and family had received at the hands of medical professionals. Recalling one occasion Della explained that she had seen a note in her son’s medical notes criticising her for being so concerned about him.
Della recalled how Nick was informed through a letter in the post that he had been given blood that had been sourced from an individual who was thought to have vCJD. Following this news with the help of her sister, who sits in the House of Lords, Della lobbied to get the law changed and sought legal action.
Concluding her evidence, Della brought the Inquiry’s attention to the current scheme of financial assistance. Della said that these were staffed by ex members of the NHS.
The second witness of the day to give oral evidence was Steven Carroll. Following treatment for his haemophilia A as a child, Steven contracted HIV and hepatitis C.
Steven told the Inquiry how at the age of 13, his GP had a conversation with him and explained how the HIV could be sexually transmitted. Steven recalled that he was alone with the doctor and left the meeting feeling as though he was a danger to others.
In his evidence, Steven discussed the societal stigma those who had HIV in the 1980s faced. As a result of this stigma, Steven felt as though he could no longer continue his education and sought to earn income through other means as this was a way of enabling him to have power over an aspect of his life. He added that the stigma and shame he faced became too much and he made an attempt on his life.
An issue that Steven raised in his evidence was his inability to develop romantic relationships. Steven told the Inquiry that these relationships would often end as the person he was with could not accept his HIV.
In the final part of his evidence, Steven stated that the majority of his therapy has been self funded which has totalled thousands of pounds. Steven stated that the main thing he wanted from the Inquiry was some form of accountability from those involved.
The final witness of the day was Robert Worsley. Robert received a blood transfusion in 1992 and subsequently developed hepatitis C.
Robert told the Inquiry that he had played Rugby to a high standard and he had an operation on his knee in 1992. When he woke up from the operation he was told that he’d also had a blood transfusion. Robert said that it was not until 1995 when he received a letter from the blood service which told him they were doing a look back exercise. Following this, Robert made an appointment with his GP for a blood test and the results of the test confirmed he had hepatitis C.
Roberts told the Inquiry that he has now cleared the hepatitis C. in his concluding remarks, Robert stated that he believed that the Skipton fund should not be means tested.