Mr L told the Inquiry how he was infected with hepatitis C after receiving a blood transfusion. He was admitted to hospital in the 1990’s when he was 19 with pneumonia which was complicated by septicaemia. His parents were asked to turn off his life support machine but refused to do so. Whilst in a coma Mr L received multiple transfusions. Mr L regained his strength and was determined to live a happy life however he was alarmed to discover that there was no record of his blood transfusions on his hospital discharge note.
Mr L underwent tests for persistent high blood pressure and it was during these tests that he found out that he had hepatitis C. He was shocked and terrified. Mr L described feeling poisonous and didn’t understand what the virus was and what it meant.
Mr L was forced to wait for funding to become available for Pegylated Interferon which had a higher success rate than Interferon. The Interferon and Ribavirin treatment caused muscle pain, lethargy and depression.
Mr L cleared the hepatitis C after 9 months of treatment. His application to the Skipton Fund was rejected initially because the Blood Transfusion Service said he hadn’t received a blood transfusion. When doctors finally acknowledged that Mr L had received a transfusion, he was advised that because 15 years had lapsed no investigation into his donor could be conducted. This was concerning as others may have been infected.
Maria was born with a blood born condition called Beta Thalassemia Major which meant that her body didn’t produce enough haemoglobin. As a result, she required multiple blood transfusions. Her condition affected her heart as well many other organs and had regular liver biopsies to detect iron damage in the liver. Maria and her parents were unaware that the doctors had also checked for hepatitis C.
Maria began feeling unwell and tired and it was thought by the doctors that this was to do with her Thalassemia or diabetes. Instead of feeling energised after a blood transfusion she would instead feel unwell. It took a year of Maria going back to the doctors for her hepatitis C infection to be identified and then the doctors didn’t explain what the infection was and what it would mean. Maria had to give up her job because of the effects of the hepatitis C treatment. Maria eventually developed cirrhosis of the liver.
Maria’s hepatitis C was eventually cleared after her fifth course of treatment but its affects are still ongoing as she described being tired and drained. She felt that the life had been sucked out of her mentally and physically.
Graham has haemophilia A and was infected with hepatitis C through contaminated blood products. He was admitted to hospital in 1978 after a fall in the playground. At first the doctors thought that he had a Factor IX deficiency and so was treated with Factor IX although it soon became clear that this was the wrong product. Later on in 1988 Graham hit his elbow and was given Factor VIII. He believes that these products were the cause of his infection.
Graham and his parents received a letter which encouraged him to have a hepatitis B vaccination as there were infection risks from blood products. He was tested for hepatitis C in 1995 but he wasn’t told that he was also being tested for Hepatitis A, B and HIV. The results came back positive for Hepatitis C and Graham was told that the ‘good news’ was that he didn’t have HIV. Graham was also told that he was at risk of vCJD. Graham was devastated, upset and angry and he thought he was going to die.
Graham’s diagnosis impacted upon his grades at school because of exhaustion and confusion. It also impacted his family life and social life as he felt that he couldn’t tell his colleagues and friends.