On the second day of the Inquiry hearings in Cardiff four witnesses gave evidence.
Colin and Janet Smith
The first witnesses of the day were Colin and Janet Smith.
Colin and Janet were discussing their son, Colin. In their evidence, Colin and Janet told the Inquiry how their son was always treated with cryoprecipitate until the late 1970s when his treatment changed to Factor VIII.
It was in the early 1980s that Colin was diagnosed with AIDS just aged 2 years old. Colin and Janet told the Inquiry they didn’t even know Colin was being tested for HIV. In her evidence, Janet stated she confided in a friend about her son’s diagnosis; however this news was passed around the local community. Colin and Janet described the stigma they faced which included Graffiti being spray painted on their house and Colin losing his job. As well as experiencing terrible stigma, the Inquiry was told that Colin was also bullied in school and as a result moved schools many times.
The Inquiry heard that Colin’s health deteriorated a few years after his AIDS diagnosis. Colin and Janet described their son telling them he thought he was going to die. At the age of 7 Colin passed away.
Concluding their evidence Colin and Janet said they didn’t know where they would be without the support they received from Tainted Blood.
The second witness of the day was Elaine Huxley.
Elaine told the Inquiry that she received a blood transfusion during a hysterectomy in 1976. Following the transfusion she was unwell for around 6 weeks.
For years after the transfusion Elaine gave blood for twice a year for 6 years until she received a letter from the Blood Service advising her that she could no longer donate and should see her GP. In March 1992, Elaine was informed she had viral jaundice and was referred to a liver specialist. Elaine was diagnosed with hepatitis C.
Elaine started treatment for hepatitis C in 2007 following a battle with the hospital who initially said she couldn’t receive this treatment as it was too expensive. Elaine told the Inquiry how the treatment led her to lose her hair, become very thin and experience fatigue. Due to her frequent absences from work Elaine received verbal warnings for calling in sick.
Elaine cleared the hepatitis C virus. She told those in attendance the tremendous guilt she feels as the blood she donated may still be out there and that she hoped the blood service could trace her donations and identify any potential recipients. Sir Brian concluded by telling Elaine her it wasn’t her fault.
The Inquiry heard how Mr AE, a severe haemophiliac, received cryoprecipitate all his life. However he was told a new wonder drug Factor 8 would help his severe haemophilia.
Mr AE discovered he was AIDS positive in 1980 and was never told he was being tested for the virus during blood tests. The Inquiry was told that Mr AE’s consultant told him to keep his AIDS diagnosis to himself. As a result of the diagnosis Mr AE went off the rails and became addicted to opioids. Following his addiction he was admitted to a psychiatric hospital.
The Inquiry was told that in the mid 1990s Mr AE was also diagnosed with hepatitis C. Mr AE described the subsequent treatment he received for this as changing him forever going onto state he has not been the same person since.
Mr AE concluded his evidence by stating he still experiences fatigue and other side effects as a result of this treatment.
The final witness of the day Judith Thomas gave evidence in relation to her late husband Christopher.
The Inquiry heard how resilient Christopher was, taking part in water sports and other activities even though he was a haemophiliac. An accident in the late 1980s led to Christopher having his right leg amputated.
A few years later Christopher was tested for HIV. Judith and Christopher had an anxious two weeks whilst waiting for the results of this test which turned out to be positive.
Judith explained that the HIV treatment Christopher received, AZT, in fact made his side effects worse and he experienced severe stomach problems as a consequence of the drug.
Judith told the Inquiry how she and her husband experienced great support from the Birchgrove Group and the Haemophilia society with them making the long journey from North Wales to attend members meetings with the Birchgrove group. Christopher passed away in 1990 from septicaemia that developed from HIV complications.