First to provide evidence was Peter who was infected with hepatitis C through a blood transfusion. When he was diagnosed in 2010/11 he described how he didn’t really understand what hepatitis C was and especially not the enormity or severity of it. Peter described the impact of the diagnosis on his family and how hepatitis C has been life changing and shattering and how he hasn’t been able to do the things with his family he has wanted to.
At the end of Peter’s evidence he described how he will not see the end of the Inquiry following his recent diagnosis. Peter read an eloquent statement that he had prepared which emphasised that he will not go quietly and that there is a victim dying every 96 hours with one voice less with every passing.
The final witnesses of the day were Jennifer, Eleanor, Sarah and Ann who are the mother, daughters and wife of Michael who was a mild haemophiliac who needed very little treatment. He was originally treated with Cryoprecipitate and then in 1982 he was treated with Factor VIII. Michael believed that he was treated experimentally as a P.U.P (Previously Untreated Patient).
In 1996 Michael was diagnosed with chronic hepatitis C and cirrhosis. He had his first liver transplant in 2000 and a second in 2008. His family spoke of their lives together and how, in 2014, Michael was told that the cancer had returned and it was terminal. In 2015 Michael passed away at the age of 47.
The family spoke of the impact on their lives of Michael passing away at such a young age and how their lives have been shaped by his passing.
Michael’s daughter Sarah then read a statement that Michael himself had written over the course of the last three years of his life.
At the close of the hearings Sir Brian spoke of his thanks for those who had attended and given evidence at the two weeks of hearings in Leeds. He said that aspects of the evidence provided by the witnesses were hardly bearable at times. He spoke of the importance of hearing from those who have not yet spoken. He said that it is important that the Inquiry is as reflective as it can be to people’s experiences. Many have yet to come forward including those suffering with thalassemia and sickle cell disease who have been infected. Sir Brian indicated that he had expected to see more from those communities taking part in the Inquiry with disease being no respecter of rank, race or origin and these groups can add to the emotion already seen. He asked people to come forward with their experience and offer what they have to say.
Sir Brian went on to thank those who have offered their accounts and they have massively increased the knowledge of the Inquiry team. He added that all of the witnesses the Inquiry have heard from have given moving accounts and today was a reminder that the Inquiry do not have the luxury of time. He reiterated that every statement will be read and people haven’t missed the boat and he remains committed to put people first and last in the Inquiry.
Sir Brian ended the hearing with what he called a “rallying call to others” and reiterated that the luxury of time is not available.