A hollow victory for the survivors of the tainted blood scandal | Letters

On Monday I learned that 33 years after I received a contaminated blood transfusion, the government has admitted that I and thousands of others were victims of a corrupt, careless system, and that we should receive compensation (British contaminated blood scandal worsened by ‘horrifying’ cover- up, research found, May 20). It’s a hollow victory.

After stomach surgery, I received a transfusion that contained hepatitis C. I was lucky to survive, unlike many others. My thoughts go out to their families. Although I have survived so far, hepatitis C can lead to liver cancer at any time. It’s a time bomb and so scary.

Unlike others, I did receive an apology in 1991 from a senior official at the Southampton blood transfusion service. We met after I gave blood (as I always did), and he said the blood they took was contaminated. He explained that although the hospital had had the opportunity to test in March 1991, when I had a transfusion in September, the hospital had not introduced the test because it could not afford it.

The sad situation was made worse by the fact that politicians had been trying to shake things up for years. Let’s hope the government has plans to prevent this terrible situation from happening again.
Stuart Bolitho
Stevenage, Hertfordshire

No one can ever know how many people have died from contaminated blood. My father died in 1981, four months before his 65th birthday. Having been a manual laborer all his life, he was a very fit, active man, although he had to undergo operations on his knees.

During the last 18 months of his life he developed ill health, which started as extreme fatigue and became increasingly severe until he became extremely ill. He developed what appeared to be a cold sore all over his face, lost enormous amounts of weight and was hospitalized several times. Despite extensive research, no explanation was found for his illness.

Shortly after his death, the AIDS awareness campaign began – and seeing the victims of AIDS made me feel like I was watching my father in that last year of his life. I have no doubt that he died of AIDS in the first days before any blood testing was done.

Many people must have died from contaminated blood in the early 1980s. Let us not forget these unknown victims of this terrible scandal.
Marjorie Haynes
Frome, Somerset

In the 1970s I was a student of Prof. Richard Titmuss at the London School of Economics. I also read his book, The Gift Relationship: From Human Blood to Social Policy, which was considered one of the ten most important books of the year by the New York Times when it was first published in 1970. It had health policy should influence. the next 50 years; If nothing else, alarm bells should have sounded loudly a decade later when there was so much concern about AIDS.

Titmuss wrote a comparative study of blood donation in the US and Great Britain, raising profound economic, political and moral questions. He contrasted the British system, which relied on volunteer donors, with the American one, where blood donors were paid and not adequately screened, so donors included people with hepatitis and HIV. He showed how a system based on altruism is more effective than one that treats human blood as a commodity. He couldn’t have been more right.
Christine Hancock
General Secretary, Royal College of Nursing, 1989-2001

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