UK Haemophiliac Community Seeks Justice in Infected Blood Scandal

The UK's Infected Blood Inquiry concludes, seeking compensation and an apology for the scandal that infected over 30,000 people with hepatitis and HIV. The inquiry investigates the use of contaminated blood products in the 1970s and 1980s, which has claimed thousands of lives.

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Bijay Laxmi
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UK Haemophiliac Community Seeks Justice in Infected Blood Scandal

UK Haemophiliac Community Seeks Justice in Infected Blood Scandal

As the UK's Infected Blood Inquiry concludes on Monday, campaigners are seeking compensation and an apology for the scandal that has claimed thousands of lives. Derek Martindale, a 60-year-old haemophiliac, is among tens of thousands of people who were infected with contaminated blood in the 1970s and 1980s.

Why this matters: The infected blood scandal highlights the need for greater accountability and transparency in the healthcare system, particularly when it comes to the use of pharmaceutical products. It also raises questions about the ethical treatment of vulnerable patients and the importance of obtaining informed consent.

Over 30,000 people in the UK were infected with hepatitis and HIV after receiving contaminated blood products. The blood plasma, known as Factor VIII, was sold by pharmaceutical companies and mixed from tens of thousands of paid donors in the US, including prisoners. It is estimated that almost 3,000 infected people have died prematurely.

The Haemophilia Society says the haemophilia community was "expendable when they were given a contaminated blood product." Campaign group Factor 8 has discovered shocking historical documents showing government-funded agencies proposing to swap chimpanzees in medical research for haemophiliacs. In 1983, a Scottish Blood Transfusion Service meeting suggested conducting studies on high-risk patients, including haemophiliacs, instead of chimpanzees. Similar discussions were held by government-funded agencies like the Medical Research Council.

Victims have shared harrowing accounts of the impact on their lives. Roger Newman, 56, from Kent, was infected with hepatitis A and B between the ages of eight and ten after receiving contaminated Factor VIII blood products without consent. "I felt I was living with a sense of shame from such a young age," he said. "You felt like a modern-day leper."

Jason Evans, founder of Factor 8 group, said, "It's scandalous to see how the medical profession and companies knew of the dangerous products... What makes this totally scandalous is people did not give consent." The infected blood scandal has been described as the worst treatment disaster in the history of the NHS.

The Infected Blood Inquiry, led by Sir Brian Langstaff, was established in 2018 to investigate the circumstances surrounding the scandal. Campaigners hope the inquiry's final report will deliver long-awaited justice for the haemophilia community and all those affected by the contaminated blood tragedy. They are seeking compensation for the suffering endured and an official apology from the government.

Key Takeaways

  • 30,000+ people in the UK were infected with hepatitis and HIV from contaminated blood products.
  • Almost 3,000 infected people have died prematurely due to the scandal.
  • Haemophiliacs were given contaminated blood products without consent, leading to lifelong health issues.
  • Government agencies proposed using haemophiliacs instead of chimpanzees in medical research.
  • Campaigners seek compensation and an official apology for the victims of the infected blood scandal.