‘He had Aids but they kept it from us’: Parents tell of hell as scale of infected blood cover-up revealed

20 May 2024, 14:05 | Updated: 20 May 2024, 15:35

Colin and Janet Smith are calling for criminal prosecutions after they lost their seven year old son Colin in 1990
Colin and Janet Smith are calling for criminal prosecutions after they lost their seven year old son Colin in 1990. Picture: alamy

By Will Conroy

Families of the victims of the contaminated blood scandal are calling for criminal prosecutions after the inquiry’s final report concluded patients were exposed to “unacceptable risks”.

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The report found that the treatment disaster could and should have been stopped after more than 30,000 people were infected with HIV and hepatitis C from 1970 to 1991 by contaminated blood products and transfusions.

The five-year investigation has also accused doctors, the government and NHS of attempting to cover up what took place.

Around 3,000 people have died in what has been called the biggest treatment disaster in NHS history, with victims campaigning for compensation for years.

Colin and Janet Smith from Newport, South Wales, are calling for criminal prosecutions after they lost their seven year old son Colin in 1990, who was infected with HIV and Hepatitis C when he was 10 months old.

They said: “Every time we took him to hospital because he had pains in his chest, pains in his stomach, they would say ‘that lad has a vivid imagination.’

“They had us down as overprotective parents. We know our son, we knew he was suffering. He had Aids but they kept it from us.

Mrs Smith said their son weighed 13lbs when he died at the age of seven.
Mrs Smith said their son weighed 13lbs when he died at the age of seven. Picture: Colin and Janet Smith

“When I asked them at that time ‘when was he infected?’ The one doctor said it could have been his first treatment - that makes it ten months old.

“Why are they infecting children in the 80s when they knew about it in the early 70s?”

Mrs Smith said: “We had ‘AIDS dead’ written on the side of the house. We’ve had crosses scraped into the front door.

“We were getting phone calls saying he should be ‘locked in a room’. You’re talking about a four-year-old little boy.”

Mr Smith said they “couldn’t pick him up and hold him” with Mrs Smith saying their son weighed 13lbs when he died at the age of seven.

Infected blood campaigners meeting in Parliament Square in London ahead of the publication of the final report into the scandal.
Infected blood campaigners meeting in Parliament Square in London ahead of the publication of the final report into the scandal. Picture: Alamy

Other victims of the scandal who have been speaking in a news conference following the inquiry said they feel “validated and vindicated” by the findings.

Andy Evans, chairman of the Tainted Blood campaign group, told a press conference that it was a "momentous day".

He said: "Sometimes we felt like we were shouting into the wind during the last 40 years.

"Today proves that it can happen in the UK and I just feel validated and vindicated by Sir Brian and his report today."

He added: "Any apologies that we've had in the past have been meaningless because all they said is this should never have happened. We know that this should never have happened.

"What was your part in it? What are you sorry for? That's what the community needs to hear before we can even begin to get closure on this."

Read more: Governments and NHS carried out ‘chilling cover-up’ of infected blood scandal, bombshell report reveals

Read more: Sunak set to apologise for infected blood scandal which killed 3,000 as inquiry publishes report

The report said the victims had been failed "not once but repeatedly" by their doctors, the NHS and the government criticising the failure to prioritise patient safety in decision-making.

It also mentioned the risk of viral infections being transmitted in blood and blood products was known since the NHS’ formation in 1948.

Victims and campaigners outside Central Hall in Westminster, London, after the publication of the Inquiry report.
Victims and campaigners outside Central Hall in Westminster, London, after the publication of the Inquiry report. Picture: Alamy

Clive Smith, another victim of the scandal and chairman of The Haemophilia Society, says it was "no surprise to our community" that there was a cover up and that many politicians should "hang their heads in shame".

He said: "Now the country knows and the world knows, there was a deliberate attempt to lie and conceal, this was systemic, by government, civil servants and healthcare professionals".

"Sir Brian [the inquiry chairman] is not sending his final report today, what the chair is saying to the government is 'I don't trust you', and that is what the community has been saying for years".

"Why is it that in the UK we continue to have these scandals? We don't listen to the recommendations of public inquiries, and that has got to stop today".

Sue Wathen added: "It was an abuse by people who were supposedly there to care for us.”

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is expected to issue an apology later on today.

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