The first witness to give oral evidence on day 1 of the second week of hearings in Edinburgh was Maria Armour.
Maria told the Inquiry how she had received a blood transfusion following a miscarriage. Maria described how she woke up to find a blood bag next to her. Two years later in 1983 Maria began to have stomach pains and a high temperature.
However, it was only in 2005 that Maria was informed she had contracted hepatitis C. At that point in time Maria had returned to study part time for a degree in Health and Social Care. Following her diagnosis she felt as though she could no longer continue her studies. After diagnosis Maria was in despair and called the Samaritans as she felt completely hopeless.
Maria told the Inquiry how she had experienced terrible stigma and recalled one specific incident where she was told by a bar maid that other pub goers were aware of Maria’s hepatitis C and were unhappy to be drinking from the same glasses as her. Maria explained that she stopped babysitting her nieces and nephews as she became so paranoid about infecting them.
The second witness giving evidence to the Inquiry today was Mr T. Mr T was involved in a serious road traffic accident in the 1980s which meant that he required three blood transfusions. Mr T was informed in 2000 he had contracted hepatitis C.
In his evidence, Mr T described the discrimination he faced at work when he told a more senior member of staff about his infection.
Mr T described how he found it difficult communicating to his children what had happened to him and revealed that he only informed them of his hepatitis C diagnosis three years ago. Mr T developed deep frustrations following his diagnosis.
Concluding his evidence Mr T described how he was informed via letter that his hepatitis C was getting worse. Mr T believes this information should have been relayed to him in person and information like this should be handled more sensitively. Mr T told the Inquiry that he is now clear of hepatitis C.
The third witness of the day was Mrs U. Mrs U told the Inquiry how her husband required blood products and blood transfusions as a result of being diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia.
Mrs U told the Inquiry when medical professionals broke the news to her of her husband’s leukaemia, she was warned not to tell him or his parents. Mrs U noticed that her husband wasn’t himself when he began losing his hair and experienced rapid weight loss.
A year after her husband was diagnosed with leukaemia, Mrs U was called to the hospital and informed that her husband had tested positive for HIV. During the same conversation, Mrs U was told that she must be tested. Mrs U described to the Inquiry the anxious wait she faced for a blood test results which confirmed she had not contracted the AIDS virus.
Mrs U told the Inquiry how once she began receiving money from the Scottish Infected Blood Support Scheme her pension credits were almost halved. She stated that her daughters do not trust anyone after what happened to their father.
Mr and Mrs V
The final witnesses on day one of the second week of the Edinburgh hearings were husband and wife Mr and Mrs V.
Mr V told the Inquiry that he had severe haemophilia which led him to administer Factor VIII prophylactically in order to prevent bleeds as a young boy. This is a precautionary measure he still takes to this day.
In the late 1980s Mr V tested positive for hepatitis C. However, he was not informed until 4 years later. Mr V’s medical notes showed that there had been four occasions where he had tested positive for hepatitis C but this was continually hidden from Mr V.
Mr and Mrs V told the Inquiry the turmoil they faced in making a decision whether or not to have a child. They concluded their evidence by telling the Inquiry how they decided not to have a baby due to the risk of the baby also contracting hepatitis C.