Contaminated blood inquiry re-opens as victims fight on
Video report by ITV News Meridian's Rachel Hepworth
A man who was given infected blood in the 1980's, in what's been described as the biggest scandal in the history of the NHS, says it has destroyed his life, but continues to fight on.
It is thought up to 30,000 people were infected with HIV and Hepatitis C from contaminated blood products from the 1970s to the 1990s.
The inquiry into the scandal re-opened on Monday (24th) in London. This week the inquiry is hearing from experts in public health about the psychological impact on victims and their families.
Gary Webster from Eastleigh in Hampshire was a child with haemophilia when he had been given a blood product called Factor 8. It is made from cheaper, imported plasma which had not been properly screened.
As a child with haemophilia, he was sent to the specialist Treloars School in Alton. He was one of 89 pupils from the school that had been given infected blood. In 1983, aged 17, was told he was HIV positive.
As a result, all but 18 of the 89 have since died.
The scandal has blighted Gary's health, but he refuses to be defined by it, saying the bond with his remaining school friends is a strong one.
He says: "I don't think I'd be here now if it wasn't for them. You've stopped going to funerals - because its too much - what keeps you going? Steven, my mate - he died when he was 23 - and I do it for him, and the others. This isn't about compensation, this is about supporting people who have lost their livelihood due to this - and their lives - their homes. They've lost everything."
In Kent, Peter Wratten was also among thousands of patients given contaminated blood during the 1970s and 80s.
He died in 2011, at the age of 54.
After his death, Peter's son Tim joined forces with the families of other victims of the contaminated blood scandal.
He's calling for the truth to come out, and support for those still living with the consequences of their treatment.
Video report by ITV News Meridian's Malcolm Shaw
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.
Victim support groups estimate between 250 and 300 more of those affected will not live to see its conclusions.