Mum infected with contaminated blood hopes inquiry will offer answers
Video report by Rachel Hepworth
A mum from Farnham has told ITV Meridian she hopes an inquiry into how thousands became infected with contaminated blood will offer her some answers.
Melanie Richmond had grown up with a haemophilia-like condition which meant her blood did not clot. Like thousands of others, she was given a blood product called Factor VIII.
However in the 1970s and 80s, it was made from plasma from overseas, and some from drug users. At least 5,000 people in Britain were infected with Hepatitis C, or HIV. More than two thirds of them have since died.
As a result, Melanie has lived with Hepatitis C since she was 17.
Melanie says she struggles with fatigue, pain and depression, but that her life fell apart when a doctor spoke to her at the birth of her second child.
She says: "He stroked my baby's head and said that he was beautiful, but it was sad that I would never get to see him going to school. I can remember thinking 'you've got that wrong, you've got the wrong person' and he said 'well the fact is, you're not going to live that long'."
With a new baby, Melanie found herself making funeral plans.
"It was awful. The children really suffered. I was trying to prepare them for losing their mum It had a huge mental impact. Not just on me, but the rest of the family."
As the scale of the scandal became apparent, so did demand for a public inquiry. Campaigners are hoping that at last they will get answers and accountability.
Melanie says: "We've been silenced for such a long time, 35 plus years. It's not something we've felt able to talk about up until now but now that it's in the public domain we just feel that the time is right to start telling our stories"
She has defied the odds, with gruelling treatments have kept her alive, but more than 100 victims have died since the inquiry began.
THE INFECTED BLOOD INQUIRY
It has been called one of the worst disasters in the history of the NHS, claiming 2500 lives and affecting many more.
A public inquiry opened up in April 2019. It's expected to take up to three years to complete.
This week the inquiry resumed in London with testimonies from the families of men, women and children who've lost their lives.
Victim support groups estimate between 250 and 300 more of those affected will not live to see its conclusions.
More information on the Infected Blood Inquiry can be found here.