The school where dozens died: Only 30 of 122 boys at Treloar College are alive after experiments with infected blood

20 May 2024, 17:17 | Updated: 20 May 2024, 17:26

We were ‘research’ say former students

By Will Conroy

Children were used as "objects for research" at a specialist school where they were treated for haemophilia, while the risks of contracting hepatitis and HIV were ignored, the final report of the Infected Blood Inquiry has found.

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Of the pupils that attended the Lord Mayor Treloar College in the 1970s and 1980s, "very few escaped being infected" and of the 122 pupils with haemophilia that attended the school between 1970 and 1987, only 30 are still alive.

Several pupils were treated for haemophilia at an on-site NHS centre while studying at the boarding school in Hampshire.

However, it was later found that many of the pupils had been treated with plasma blood products which were infected with hepatitis and HIV.

Commemorative plaque on a church pew honoring the Treloar haemophiliac students who died
Commemorative plaque on a church pew honoring the Treloar haemophiliac students who died. Picture: Alamy

Two former students at the school have said “we were research material” and “there was no other way the judge could read it”.

Speaking to LBC, Owen Saville and Adrian Goodyear said: “They knew, they knew, they knew, all these outbreaks. The cover-up started then, they didn’t tell anyone.

“They said ‘don’t tell them, they’ll never find out’, but before the world of the internet - that’s what they didn’t bank on. We knew before the inquiry what they’d done. We just needed a judge to sit there and confirm what we already knew.

“We were there for research, we were research material - the conspiracy theory is no more.

The men said they were “not surprised” at the report's conclusion that they were “objects for research”.

They added: “There was no other way a judge could read it. There was so much thankfully that we were all able to find in documentation that we thought was shredded.

“To actually see it by a third party in black and white is quite stark really.”

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

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

The former pupils believe they are entitled to significant compensation and hope Prime Minister Rishi Sunak recognises this in his apology he is set to deliver later today.

On the prospect of compensation and an apology, they said: “It gives some sort of recognition. Partly it's about security of old age - we need security with our old age, something to tell us it's going to be okay financially, we need buffers. That’s what compensation is.

“We’d have all paid private pensions, we’d be mortgage free by now. Those normal things that people do in life should be returned to us; it should be given back to us at least.

“When it comes to an apology, that narrative at the very least - the psychological damage and those losses should be acknowledged. We definitely believe that compensation should be quite large.”

Haemophilia is an inherited disorder where the blood doesn't clot properly and in the 1970s, a new treatment made from donated human blood plasma was developed to replace the missing clotting agent.

The report, written by inquiry chairman Sir Brian Langstaff, concluded that children at Treloar's were treated with multiple commercial concentrates that were known to carry higher risks of infection.

It also found that staff favoured the "advancement of research" above the best interests of the children.

Chairman of the infected blood inquiry Sir Brian Langstaff with victims and campaigners outside Central Hall in Westminster, London.
Chairman of the infected blood inquiry Sir Brian Langstaff with victims and campaigners outside Central Hall in Westminster, London. Picture: Alamy

Sir Brian said: "The pupils were often regarded as objects for research, rather than first and foremost as children whose treatment should be firmly focused on their individual best interests alone. This was unethical and wrong."

His report found there is "no doubt" that the healthcare professionals at Treloar's were aware of the risks of virus transmission through blood and blood products.

He wrote: "Not only was it a prerequisite for research, a fundamental aspect of Treloar's, but knowledge of the risks is displayed in what the clinicians there wrote at the time.

"Practice at Treloar's shows that the clinical staff were well aware that their heavy use of commercial concentrate risked causing Aids," he continued.

"It is difficult to avoid a conclusion that the advancement of research was favoured above the immediate best interest of the patient."

The report also highlighted that parents and children at Treloar's were given little information about their care and the related risks, and that parental consent was not sought regarding the use of different treatments.

Sir Brian wrote: "The evidence before the inquiry suggests, overwhelmingly, that there was no general system or process for telling parents of the risks of viral infection. Nor were pupils told.

"Parents were not given details, nor even core information, about their children at Treloar's for haemophilia.

In many cases, the report states, research was conducted on patients, including children, without consent or consent of their parents and without informing them of the risks.

"They gave a consistent account that there had been no meaningful consultation with their parents, or with them.”

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

Treloar School and College said in a statement: "The inquiry's report shows the full extent of this horrifying national scandal. We are devastated that some of our former pupils were so tragically affected and hope that the findings provide some solace for them and their families.

"The report lays bare the systemic failure at the heart of the scandal.

"Whilst today is about understanding how and why people were given infected blood products in the 1970s and 1980s, it is absolutely right that the Government has committed to establishing a proper compensation scheme. This must happen urgently after such a long wait.

"On a recent visit to the school and college, our former students highlighted the need for a more public and accessible memorial to ensure the lives of all those impacted are remembered. This is a key recommendation of the report and something which we are absolutely committed to exploring with them.

"We'll now be taking the time to reflect on the report's wider recommendations."

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