The Inquiry oral hearings resumed for their second week in Leeds this morning.
The first witness to provide evidence on day 1 was Nicola Leahey. She received contaminated blood via blood transfusions in the 1970’s/80’s and was infected with hepatitis C. Nicola spoke of working in the NHS in a senior role until taking early retirement in 2006.
She spoke of how she was the matriarch of her family who everyone went to and was always seen as the strong and positive one but hepatitis C did change that.
Nicola also spoke of how she now works on a voluntary basis in the NHS where her role is to focus on patient experience and, one of her wishes for the Inquiry, is that the NHS looks at the patient experience for those infected and affected.
Nicola brought humour to her evidence by talking about the product that helped her eyelashes to grow again after losing them due to the hepatitis C treatment.
The second witness of the day was an anonymous witness, Ms N. Her Father suffered from severe haemophilia A and was diagnosed with HIV in the early 1980’s. He passed away in 1998. Ms N talked about the ‘weight of the secret’ and the stigma associated with HIV which she still feels today. She spoke of the fact that her Father isn’t mourned publically due to the stigma and that ‘he’s silent, he’s gone, he’s forgotten.’
The final witness of the day was Suresh Vaghela. He has severe haemophilia A which his late brother also suffered from. He spoke of when Factor VIII was first introduced and he saw it as a ‘magic potion’ which gave him and his brother greater freedom.
In the early 1990’s Suresh was diagnosed with HIV and his brother received the same diagnosis a few months later. Suresh was diagnosed with hepatitis C a few years after his HIV diagnosis.
Suresh’s brother passed away in 1995 and during his evidence he spoke of attending almost 70 funerals in the year his brother died and the toll that took on him.
At the end of his evidence Suresh thanked the Inquiry and spoke of his heartfelt appreciation and gratitude for all of the infected and affected.