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‘We are still suffering’, say families of contaminated blood scandal victims

Five sisters lost their brother in 2008 after he was infected with hep C via a contaminated blood transfusion (Ellie Ng/PA)
Five sisters lost their brother in 2008 after he was infected with hep C via a contaminated blood transfusion (Ellie Ng/PA)

Families of victims of the contaminated blood scandal have described how they continued to suffer in the years after losing their loved ones, as they await the final report of the independent inquiry.

Brian Moore lost his mother, Irene Moore, in 1998 after she developed cancer of the bile duct and recalled the “wreckage” of her body on her deathbed as he insisted he and his family were “still suffering”.

In 2008, six siblings lost their brother, Peter Lloyd, who had liver cancer, and his sisters have told of their lasting anger over his sickness and death.

Photo of Peter Lloyd
Peter Lloyd joined the Air Force when he was 17 (Ellie Ng/PA)

Ms Moore and Mr Lloyd were both infected with hepatitis C (hep C) after receiving transfusions of contaminated blood years before their deaths.

The Infected Blood Inquiry was ordered almost seven years ago by then prime minister Theresa May to look into the circumstances in which people treated by health services were given infected blood, in particular since 1970.

Ms Moore – described by her son as “an angel” – was prescribed a transfusion of six units of blood after she went to hospital in Newtownabbey, north of Belfast city centre, in 1986 with internal bleeding.

Her son told the PA news agency how “she was really being poisoned” during that hospital trip and that she “never fully recovered”.

“It came to a head in 1997 and she woke up and she was orangey yellow,” Mr Moore said.

He described how his mother went to hospital and was diagnosed with cancer of the bile duct and hep C.

Brian Moore
Brian Moore described his mother Irene Moore as ‘an angel’ (Family Handout/PA)

Mr Moore, who lives in Newtownabbey, told PA: “They called us in and said: ‘Look your mum’s terminal and she’s not going to get out of this, she’s going to die and she’d be lucky if she gets six months’.

“And I actually broke the news to her that she was terminally ill.”

Mr Moore explained that he wanted the news to come from “someone who loves her as opposed to someone who is being kind to her”.

She went to live with her daughter, and Mr Moore and his two older brothers helped out whenever they could.

“She just got weaker and weaker and lost more and more weight and she finally passed away on February 1 1998,” Mr Moore said.

“It was horrendous. It was just horrendous.

“Even now I can see my mum before my eyes lying on her death bed, skeletal, her skin orange and wrinkled, the whites of her eyes orangey green, her hair just like pieces of wire.

“It was just awful.”

He added: “That wreckage of her body on her deathbed, completely broken, and I said this just is not fair.”

She was 80 when she died, but Mr Moore said she still “missed out on an awful lot in life”.

The family only realised “after a while” that hep C was the “ingredient that brought about all this” and that she had been infected by the blood transfusion in 1986.

Mr Moore has been involved in the inquiry and has shared his mother’s story at meetings involving others affected.

Asked what he was hoping for out of the final report, he told PA: “I want it just to be put in black and white that this should not have happened. It was avoidable.

“It was horrendous. An awful lot of people have suffered, we’re still suffering.

“Whenever it’s mentioned on the news, well then there you go again and you’re or thinking about those days, those horrible, horrendous days, and then that bit of newsworthiness is over and a couple of days later you start to come down again and get into your way of natural living.

“And I wish to god it was all over. I just wish it was all over.”

Helene Hall, Mary Lovell, Sally Martin, Sam Lloyd, Martha Charalambous and Louise Huxley lost their brother Peter Lloyd on June 30 2008.

Mr Lloyd was infected with hep C after receiving blood transfusions following a car accident in 1985 and went on to develop bowel and then liver cancer before his death.

A funeral service sheet for Peter Lloyd
Peter Lloyd developed bowel and liver cancer after he was infected with Hepatitis C (Ellie Ng/PA)

His five sisters – Ms Hall, Ms Lovell, Ms Martin, Ms Charalambous and Ms Huxley – told PA there was no way to be prepared to lose a sibling in that way.

Ms Charalambous said: “It’s like a part of you is missing because there was always seven of us. But we just feel robbed. They broke our family.”

While Ms Martin said: “I think about him every single day. I’ve lost a best friend. I will always feel like that.”

Ms Huxley told PA: “I feel angry because he was given blood and we’ve seen evidence of this, at the time when they knew that the blood was infected.

“Words fail me how something like this, which is the biggest case in national health history, can go on for so long without redress.”

The sisters told of how Mr Lloyd “hated injustice” and said that was in part why they were involved in the inquiry “fighting tooth and nail”.

Ms Martin said: “You can’t get over it, you can’t forget it because it’s brought into your life.

“Our brother has been taken away from us and he shouldn’t have been.”

Ms Lovell insisted there needs to be “accountability” coming out of the final report, saying people need to be named and prosecuted if required after they “destroyed lives”.

Ms Hall said that the people who “allowed” the scandal to happen “can’t have a conscience” and that waiting so long for a resolution has been “soul destroying”.