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14 Jun 19
Infected Blood Inquiry – Oral Hearing Leeds – Week 1, Day 2

Oral evidence of Martin Beard

Martin was diagnosed with severe haemophilia A as a baby and spent a lot of time in hospital with bleeds. He was initially treated with cryoprecipitate and then Factor VIII. In 1986, following a transfer to a new hospital, Martin was greeted by a doctor who said, “Hello, I see you’re HIV positive”. This was the first Martin had heard of his infection. At age 17 Martin was told that he only had two years to live.

In 2006 Martin discovered a letter from 1985 between hospitals which insisted that Martin should not be told of his HIV infection. He was stunned that the doctors would put others at risk of infection by not telling him.

Martin told the Inquiry about how his HIV infection started to affect him mentally and physically. Martin lost his cousin to HIV. He had a bad experience with a dentist who didn’t want to treat him and he also had issues in employment where he was forced out of a placement due to his condition. Socially he also suffered and his plans to travel to America were affected with his visa application rejected on several occasions.

Martin has now been a public speaker for the past 22 years and says it saddens him when younger doctors feel the need to apologise for the mistakes of their predecessors. He believes that its time for justice.

Oral evidence of David Gort

David was diagnosed with severe haemophilia A and first received Factor VIII when he was six years old. After being told that he had hepatitis C he felt that more emphasis should have been put on him not drinking alcohol considering his age at the time. In the early years of his diagnosis, he was exhausted and remembered falling asleep at the wheel. He described the effects of the Interferon and Ribavirin treatment in 2011 as “horrendous” and he suffered memory loss which led to him taking voluntary redundancy. The treatment was unsuccessful and so he had to pay privately for Harvoni treatment which cleared the virus. In 2014 he discovered that he had developed cirrhosis of the liver.

David suffered from stigma because of his infection from hospital staff, with one doctor quizzing him about how many sexual partners he had had. He spoke about how his infection has negatively impacted his career and his ability to obtain travel insurance. He didn’t want others who were infected to have to fight for treatment.

Oral evidence of Darren Rawson

Darren was infected with hepatitis C through a blood transfusion after complications from a tonsillectomy operation in 1988. Around 2004 he visited his GP with severe nose bleeds and was told that he had hepatitis C by a specialist. He was asked several questions which made him angry such as if he was a drug user and if he had many sexual partners. After his diagnosis Darren felt “dirty” and became depressed.

In 2009 or 2010 his mother read a newspaper article which made the family consider that that it may have been the transfusion which caused his infection. The realisation was devastating for Darren and he attempted suicide. Darren suffered terrible side effects from treatment and his mental health worsened. Darren hasn’t received a fibroscan since he cleared the virus and believes that there should be more monitoring of patients.

Darren described the problems he faced trying to claim the support he was entitled to from the English Infected Blood Support Scheme, saying dealing with them was a “fighting battle”. Darren hasn’t been able to work for a long time and the lack of a regular income has affected his credit scoring as well as his eligibility for a mortgage.

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