Oral Evidence of Carolyn Challis
Day 2 of the hearings started with the oral evidence of Carolyn Challis. Carolyn received a number of blood transfusions in March 1992, May 1993 and July 1993 as a result of chemotherapy treatment and was diagnosed with hepatitis C.
Carolyn’s main symptoms of hepatitis C have been chronic fatigue which was so deep and profound no amount of sleep would fix it, brain fog which she describes as “wading through treacle” and also food intolerances.
As Carolyn’s infection occurred after 5th September 1991 the Skipton Fund would not provide any payments as they deem her date of infection as a time when all blood was being treated so there was no risk of infection. Carolyn’s consultants have confirmed that there was no alternative source of infection and the hepatitis C came from contaminated blood and the hepatitis may have been lying dormant in the blood that she was transfused but the Skipton Fund have rejected her appeals.
Carolyn’s mission is education of and awareness of hepatitis C and to get people tested. She wants more education to remove the stigma of hepatitis C and more education for preventing the transmission of hepatitis C.
Oral Evidence of Stephen Nicholls
Stephen is a haemophiliac with haemophilia B. Stephen attended mainstream school until the age of about 8 when his parents chose to send him to Treloar’s School.
At Treloar’s Stephen was first given Cryoprecipitate but then he was quickly moved onto factor concentrates which were sold s a miracle cure which could be administered in 20 minutes unlike cryoprecipitate which took hours. In 1978 he was moved onto prophylactic treatment where he was given factors 2-3 times a week on a routine basis to prevent bleeding as his factor levels would remain high.
Stephen described Treloar’s as a “cattle market” for around 4 years between 1979 and 1984. The boys would be called down to the treatment rooms where the factor’s would be pre-mixed and labelled with each boy’s surname. However, if a boy didn’t turn up for treatment they were just told to use that boy’s pre-mixed factor.
In 1983 when the link between haemophiliacs and HIV was in the press Stephen and four of his friends made a pact when the first haemophiliacs began to die. They realised that it was killing haemophiliacs and the pact was to rely on the person still alive to pursue it. Stephen went on to describe that he is the only one left and he thinks about that every day. He said that out of the 89 boys at Treloar’s during his time only 16 are still alive. The boys were like brothers they ate together, learnt together and were treated together so they were more than just friends.
Oral Evidence of Kate Ashton
Kate contracted hepatitis C in 1988 following blood transfusions as a result of leukaemia. She was told she had hepatitis C in 1997 although there is evidence that the medical professionals were screening for hepatitis C from 1990.
Physically Kate was more fatigued in daily life but didn’t have a huge amount of symptoms. She did have symptoms of depression which she has been told are often linked to hepatitis C. Kate did attempt suicide in 1993. After this unsuccessful attempt she was referred for counselling but it took three and a half years before she saw a counsellor on the NHS. Kate believes what has turned her around is her Christian faith and her very good friends.
She used to be a highly self motivated individual but now struggles and people who knew her 10-15 years ago knew a very different Kate. One of her friends described her as being a “dark cloud in the room”