‘The NHS treatment that caused my cancer’

.'The NHS treatment that caused my cancer'
'The NHS treatment that caused my cancer'

A High Court judge is starting work this week as chairman of a public inquiry into the biggest treatment scandal in NHS history. Tens of thousands want answers after being infected with hepatitis C and HIV from contaminated blood products. “It’s become a life of sickness, illness, worry, anxiety,” Steve Dymond tells the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme. “It is not the life I imagined, in terms of dreams, in terms of ambitions.” In 2016, Steve had a tumour removed from his liver. Every few months, he and his wife Su make the three-hour trip from the Kent coast to a hospital in south London to check it hasn’t resurfaced. Steve’s cancer, along with years of ill health, was the result of groundbreaking NHS treatment meant to transform his life. As a haemophiliac, his blood was missing the key material needed to clot properly. So like almost every person with the condition in the UK in the 1970s and 80s, he was treated with Factor VIII – an injection that replaces the missing clotting agent. But some UK supplies were imported, and much of the blood plasma used to make Factor VIII came from high-risk donors like prison inmates in the US, who sold their blood for a few dollars a time. “They didn’t explain that there was any risk of contamination,” Steve says. “We were exposed time, after time, after time.” At least 4,689 haemophiliacs like Steve were infected with the blood virus hepatitis C. Around 1,250 were also injected with what were then called “Aids antibodies” or HIV, and had to live with the devastating health consequences, along with the stigma and abuse of the time. In the decades since, at least 2,883 have died. The infection changed Steve’s life forever. Hepatitis C is a malicious disease that can take years to take hold, leading to chronic fatigue and nausea. Some 65% develop liver disease which does, in many cases, lead to cirrhosis and cancer. After his diagnosis Steve and Su were told they couldn’t continue their cycle of IVF, ending any hope of having children.

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