Mother given infected blood says 'money can never make up for what happened to me'

A mother of three from Surrey, who was infected with contaminated blood in the 1970s, has said money can never make up for what happened to her or the thousands of others who were infected.

Melanie Richmond from Farnham was infected with Hepatitis C as a child - she's one of more than 30,000 people infected with either HIV and Hepatitis C from contaminated blood products through blood transfusions in the 1970s and 80s.

Many were haemaphiliacs but others were given transfusions after accidents or during childbirth.

Since then, victims have been fighting for a fair compensation system, and on Tuesday (7 June) that moved a step closer.

An independent review has been looking at how a scheme would work, to adequately compensate victims and their families for a lifetime of ill-health and in the case of more than 3000 people, a premature death.

But Melanie Richmond has described the impact on her life as 'horrendous for years and years.'

"We weren't entitled to any life insurance, we weren't able to get any mortgages, or health insurance so we couldn't go abroad, she said.

"And if we could get health insurance it was at an extremely high premium.

"I've spent my life on benefits with lack of a career, so wasn't able to help the kids go to university, or help them with their first deposits on flats.

"I was constantly begging for benefits to help out, and knocking on lots of doors, and getting told we didn't qualify for anything because our symptoms were not visible.

"Up until two years ago, we weren't receiving any financial help from the government at all - so the impact has been huge."

Melanie Richmond was infected with Hepatitis C as a child

Speaking about the new framework being implemented, Melanie described it as 'urgent.'

"It's been urgent for the last 30 years.

"Since the inquiry has been announced, we have lost 400 victims, and since we were infected we've lost over 3,000 victims. It's urgent. The government could at least provide an interim payment for those that are dying now.

"So for them to die with peace of mind that their families will be taken care of."

"The difference to our lives would be huge.

"For the last 40 years we have felt that our lives have not been worthy of anything, because the government has not acknowledged us. It's only because of campaigners that we have got this far.

"Compensation would enable us to live at least the same quality of life that everyone else that hasn't had infected blood, be able to live."

Des Collins, Group action solicitor

19 recommendations have been made, suggesting victims should receive immediate interim payments, and make claims easier, which is likely to run into hundreds of millions of pounds, They will now be considered by the ongoing inquiry into the scandal, led by Sir Brian Langstaff.

The inquiry has already heard from hundreds of people, including pupils from Treloar School in Alton, at the time a specialist haemaphiliac centre.

More than 70 former pupils have since died and survivors are now seeking damages in a separate case. Their lawyer today said that speed was of the essence.

The details of the payouts will take some time for the Government to finalise, but Tuesday's announcement does recognise culpability for the scandal for the first time.

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

Former Treloar College pupils given infected blood take legal action against Hampshire school