Contaminated blood scandal victim suffered mystery illness for decades before uncovering truth

Video report by ITV News Meridian's Rachel Hepworth

A Hampshire woman who was infected with Hepatitis C during a blood transfusion was mysteriously unwell for nearly three decades before she learned the truth.

Jackie Britton, from Portchester, was given blood after complications giving birth to her eldest daughter in 1983, but she only discovered she was infected in 2011.

The blood transfusion saved her life.

But she had no way of knowing the blood was contaminated, and has suffered from ill health ever since.

Jackie was given a blood transfusion after giving birth to her eldest daughter. Credit: Jackie Britton

Jackie said: "The Hepatitis C was nearly 30 years in my body, causing havoc with my liver, it's torn it apart. Nothing is going to make you well again.

"I've got my funeral paid for, I've got written what I want at my funeral, it's a really dark place."

Jackie's story is not an isolated one. The Infected Blood Inquiry in London has been running since 2019, and has heard from scores of patients whose lives have been blighted by the scandal.

Campaigners have long fought for victims Credit: ITV News

For years campaigners have fought for the victims of what's been described as the biggest treatment disaster in the history of the NHS.

Thousands have died from HIV and Hepatitis after being given cheap imported blood products in the 1970s and 80s.

Many victims were haemophiliacs, including more than one hundred children at the specialist Treloars School near Alton. 

Until now, the Inquiry has focused on their treatment but Jackie says others like her must not be forgotten.

Jackie said: "Their losses have been immense, but because on the whole, they were treated in haemophilia centres, they were treated and known about.

"We as individuals who had transfusions in individual hospitals, we've never had that network.

"It's only since the inquiry that we've started meeting other people in the same boat.

"We need to raise the awareness because we don't know the numbers.

"There might be thousands probably who've died without the knowledge they were infected."

Credit: ITV News

Emma Jones, Lawyer, said: "You have to remember that these are people who've been infected, who are suffering, who have ill health, or their loved ones who are having to cope with the psychological impact, or carry on the fight after their loved one has passed away."

The inquiry still has many months to run. A compensation framework is being looked at but Jackie is worried that her daughter, who she cares for full time, would get nothing if she were to die under the current scheme.

Still she remains positive. She said: "We're the lucky ones, we're still here, there's so many who aren't, more than 2000, and we have to speak out for those who aren't here."