Infected blood scandal victim: 'I went to 70 funerals in a year, it was surreal'

  • A man tells ITV News Central his 'surreal' story of attending 70 funerals in one year, after many of his friends and his brother, were infected with contaminated blood products.

A final report into the contaminated blood scandal, where around 30,000 people were infected with HIV and hepatitis C after being given contaminated blood products, has been delayed again.

The publication of the highly-anticipated report is now expected in May.

Suresh Vaghela, 61, from Leicestershire, is one of those who has lived a life overshadowed by illness and loss after he was given contaminated blood products.

Mr Vaghela was left with HIV, hepatitis and a deadly brain condition.

It is believed around 30,000 people were infected with HIV and hepatitis C through contaminated blood products in the 1970s and 1980s.

More than 3,000 people have died - in what has been described by MPs as the worst treatment disaster in NHS history.

Suresh found out he'd been infected, while at university in Birmingham in the 1980's. He said he was told to keep it quiet. Credit: ITV News Central

Mr Vaghela, from Bushby near Leicester, was born with haemophilia - meaning his blood doesn't clot properly.

As a schoolboy, he received a clotting agent called Factor VIII. Much of it had been imported from America, where the donors were often prisoners or drug-users.

Suresh found out he'd been infected while at university in Birmingham in the 1980's.

He said he received a phone call to inform him.

He said: "I had a phone call saying - pack your bags, you've got two months to live, and don't tell anybody.

"That was the main thing - don't tell anybody. We don't want any kind of uproar."

Praful Vaghela, Suresh's brother, also contracted HIV after being contaminated with infected blood. He died when he was 34. Credit: ITV News Central

Suresh's brother, Praful, also contracted HIV - he died when he was just 34.

"I've lost my brother. I've lost friends who were like brothers," he said.

"In a particular year, I went to 70 funerals. It was surreal."

It was announced on Wednesday that the publication of a final report into the infected blood scandal has been delayed until May 2024.

The chairman of the public inquiry, Sir Brian Langstaff, said more time was needed to prepare "a report of this gravity".

Victims and their families were initially told they would learn the findings in autumn 2023.

That date was pushed back until March, and the inquiry has now confirmed the further delay to 20 May 2024.

A public inquiry into the scandal began in 2019.

The government has said it accepts the "moral case" for compensation, and interim payouts of £100,000 each have already been made to about 4,000 victims and some bereaved partners.

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know...