Lesley received an urgent blood transfusion after the birth of her first child. She was initially reluctant to have the transfusion as she had heard stories about HIV transmission through contaminated blood. Lesley was called a ‘bed blocker’ and ‘paranoid’ by a consultant. She was persuaded to receive the transfusion as she was told the blood had been heat treated. Over the next 20 years she experienced extreme fatigue, cognitive loss and she struggled with her demanding job.
Businesswoman Anita Roddick’s revelation that she had been infected with hepatitis C after a transfusion eventually led to Lesley’s own hepatitis C diagnosis. Lesley was treated with Ribavirin and Interferon but the treatment was unsuccessful, and the side effects so severe that she had to cease work and sell her company.
Lesley continued to donate blood following her transfusion and felt guilty about inadvertently putting infected blood back into the system. Over the years she suffered stigma from clients, medical staff and family members. Lesley now raises awareness about hepatitis C within The Hepatitis C Trust.
Sean had mild haemophilia but he was taught how to administer Factor VIII blood product as a training activity. As it wasn’t necessary for his treatment, Sean believes was done for the purpose of experimentation given that he was a Previously Untreated Person (PUP). Sean was tested and found to have hepatitis C in 1992 but was not told until 1994. The way in which he was told was described as blasé, with the doctor saying that he should count himself ‘lucky’ that he didn’t have HIV. Sean felt anger, betrayal and worry. His infection meant that he had to give up work, putting strain on the family.
Sean underwent treatment for hepatitis C with Harvoni. He described the side effects as horrendous. Sean told the Inquiry how his mother blamed herself for his infected as she let him have the treatment. He believes that the scandal shouldn’t be described as an accident as the authorities had enough knowledge and forewarning about contaminated blood.
In 1982 Leroy had knee surgery and he was given a blood transfusion. After this he suffered from stomach pains, restlessness and excessive sweating. He described being told that he had hepatitis C as a ‘bombshell’ as he had lived a healthy lifestyle.
Leroy discovered that he had been tested and diagnosed with hepatitis C six years before he was informed which prevented him from having earlier treatment. After he was infected Leroy felt dirty, isolated and blamed for his own infection. He also described feeling angry and frustrated at what was happening to him. A course of Interferon and Ribavirin treatment was unsuccessful, and it was a clinical trial drug which eventually cleared the virus.
Leroy’s medical records from the hospital and the GP from 1979 to 1986 are missing and because of this Leroy has not received any financial assistance. His applications to the Skipton Fund and the English Infected Blood Support Scheme were rejected. Leroy told the Inquiry it was like ‘hitting his head against a brick wall’ as the records proving his transfusion have been destroyed through no fault of his own.