The second day of the second week of oral evidence hearings began with a message from Sir Brian. Sir Brian informed those who were in attendance at the Inquiry today that two out of the three individuals giving oral evidence would be giving evidence anonymously.
Oral evidence of Alan Percy Fowle and Christine Fowle
First to give oral evidence today were the parents of a young man named Christopher who had severe haemophilia and subsequently contracted HIV and hepatitis C from contaminated blood products. Alan and Christine explained that they were informed their son had HIV when he was just 9 years old. At the time he was given a life expectancy of around 22 years. The parents described how at the age of 15 during a routine appointment concerning their son’s HIV the doctor told the family they should be more concerned about his hepatitis C. They recalled that this was the first time that any of the family had been made aware that their son had also contracted the hepatitis C virus.
Christine explained the awful stigma their son faced and recalled a specific situation when a nurse refused to dispose of a needle used on their son into a sharps bin. Instead Christine was forced take the needle home.
Concluding their evidence, Alan and Christine described how rapidly Christopher’s health deteriorated before he passed away. Christopher lost his sight completely, became jaundice and suffered with frequent bouts of pneumonia. He sadly died aged 22.
Oral evidence of Mr V
The second individual of the day to give oral evidence was from an anonymous witness known as Mr V.
Mr V was born with a blood disorder called thalassemia. This blood disorder meant that he would need frequent blood transfusions as an adult. In the late 1990s, Mr V was informed that he had contracted hepatitis C from one of the blood transfusions he’d received.
Mr V discussed in significant detail the side effects of the treatment he had for the hepatitis C. In his evidence Mr V stated that the affects of the Interferon treatment have been long lasting. Whilst on the treatment Mr V developed very low moods. As a result of the treatment Mr V has developed anxiety which limits his ability to perform tasks on a daily basis.
Additionally, Mr V described his relentless struggle to gain access to dental treatment adding that many dentists don’t wish to provide treatment to individuals who have hepatitis C. He added that the stigma attached to the hepatitis C virus has had a profound impact on him.
At the end of Mr V’s evidence, Sir Brian Langstaff asked the press that were in attendance to try and help raise awareness of the fact that thalassemiacs are able to participate in the Inquiry.
Oral evidence of Mrs C
The final witness of the day was Mrs C, a witness who had been granted anonymity by the Inquiry. Mrs C’s son was born with severe haemophilia and would receive regular treatment for this in the form of factor VIII and cryoprecipitate.
Mrs C told the Inquiry that one day her son had needed dental treatment, she recalled that the nurse came in gowned up in protective clothing and told her and her son that he had contracted HIV from contaminated blood products. Mrs C added that this was the only information they had received. Mrs C went onto explain how her family had never been offered counselling or support.
Mrs C stated that her son’s weight went down to 5 stone in his late teens shortly before his death. Mrs C’s son developed ulcers which made it almost impossible for him to eat or drink. Following his passing, Mrs C explained that a number of years later her other her son was also diagnosed with hepatitis C.