Mum still feels guilt for son’s infected blood death

Val White still feels guilt about her son Martin’s death. When he was seven years old, she gave him injections of a blood clotting treatment that they later discovered was contaminated with HIV.

She could never have known that the treatment she was giving to her son, who had haemophilia, was going to kill him. It destroyed his life,” said the 77-year-old, from Cardiff.

“A lot of it is guilt – guilt that I wished I’d done more. Guilt that I gave him the injection – it was me that administered it.” It has been more than 20 years since Martin died, at the age of 33 after he developed HIV at the age of 14.

“HIV was so new we hadn’t really heard a great deal of it until then,” said Mrs White.It was explained we mustn’t touch his toothbrushes – to tell the other children was very difficult. You’ve still got to be loved, you’ve still got to be cuddled and kissed and carry on normally, without upsetting him.

On Monday, the public inquiry into what has been called the biggest treatment disaster in NHS history will report on whether others could have prevented Martin’s death.

Martin was 13 months old when, in 1971, he was diagnosed with haemophilia, a rare genetic condition which meant his blood did not clot properly.

He was seven when he was put on a new treatment regime – using the blood clotting treatment, Factor 8.Factor 8 was made from the plasma of tens of thousands of people, predominantly imported from America, using blood that high risk donors had been paid for. If just one donor was carrying a virus, the entire batch was contaminated.

These products were routinely used for haemophilia treatment in the UK by the late 1970s, and patients needing blood transfusions between 1970 and 1991 were also given contaminated blood.

This resulted in more than 30,000 people across the UK, including 400 people in Wales, being infected with HIV and Hepatitis C. Martin suffered really badly, mentally as much as physically,” said Mrs White. The tablets he was on really made him violently ill and he suffered a lot with his liver.”

Mrs White had to leave her work as a nurse auxiliary – at the same Cardiff hospital where Martin was treated by Prof Arthur Bloom. I was off with anxiety and depression and had a couple of nervous breakdowns,” she said.

“It was at the time when Rock Hudson died (from Aids) and the pictures were in the paper of him and I kept thinking ‘what will Martin look like when it’s his end?’ n the end it just took over. More than 30,000 people in the UK were infected with HIV and Hepatitis C after being given contaminated blood products in the 1970s and 1980s.

Two main groups of NHS patients were affected. Firstly, haemophiliacs – and those with similar disorders – who have a condition which means their blood does not clot properly.

A second group of patients were given contaminated blood transfusions after childbirth, surgery or other medical treatment between 1970 and 1991. Across the UK, it’s thought about 2,900 people have died.

Source: BBC

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