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GreeceOPINION; TAINTED BLOOD KILLS

OPINION; TAINTED BLOOD KILLS

Hellenic News of America
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By Andreas C Chrysafis

On Monday 20, May 2024 people listened to the most chilling revelations—a bombshell in fact—about the long awaited UK Infected Blood Inquiry presented by Sir Brian Langstaff in London.

Families of the infected listened in shock but remained silent recognizing that their battle for justice has reached its crescendo stage and the truth is finally out! The blood scandal of biblical proportions was allowed to incubate for over 40 years and if it were not for the dedication and determination of those amazing brave groups of people representing thousands of victims, this appalling practice would continue to be suppressed by the NHS, the authorities, ministers and successive governments.

One can mask the truth for so long but one can never destroy it!

Certainly things have moved on since then Prime Minister, Teresa May announced a public statutory inquiry on 11 July 2017. It took years of campaigning by infected social groups and their supporters to reach today’s shocking disclosures. Thankfully, blood screening since 1985 has become mandatory—including testing for Hepatitis C five years later!

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Sir Brian’s articulate presentation of his findings compelled the audience listen to his every word without uttering a sound; they were stunned! In his dignified manner, he spoke on behalf of more than 30.000 victims with Haemophilia, Thalassemia, HIV and Hepatitis B & C victims infected by tainted blood transfusions in the UK, Scotland and Northern Island.

The report revealed cases of hundreds of unnecessary deaths due to negligence and the failure of a health system that’s meant to be saving and protecting lives. Instead, the sick and those in need of blood transfusions were given tainted blood products as treatment and many sadly suffered and died! The death of one’s loved ones destroyed the dreams of caring mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters as well as relatives mourning the preventable deaths of victims. Yes, in this case… blood kills!

Those infected went on to develop horrific conditions including, pneumonia, cancer, TB, AIDS and cirrhosis of the liver. Hep-C sufferers soon developed the need of a liver transplant with little scope of overcoming the transplant ordeal. Abandoned by the system, victims and families had to fight for justice while those sufferers contaminated with HIV and Hepatitis, endured social rejection and abuse. Infected children had become “objects for research” at the Lord Mayor Treloar College “without their parents’ knowledge or consent”.

The one most reprehensible practice by NHS — due to the shortage of UK-produced plasma concentrate—blood shortage meant that clinicians in the UK relied on blood imports from the US.

Desperate for cash people off the streets, drug addicts and prisoners in America were engaged and paid to become blood donors despite being at higher risk of carrying infections. Without meaningful screening, contaminated blood was collected and sold to the UK and elsewhere in the world for a price! The main objective for this lucrative corporate practice was profit-driven and not necessarily to save lives!

Plasma centres in the US pay donors between $850 – $1,000 for first time donations and $50 to $70 or even higher each time they give plasma. An estimated 2.3 million people in the USA are living with Hepatitis C infection and some people make hundreds of dollars per month depending on how often their plasma is collected. Subsequently, the US blood-donor scheme attracts all type of contributors including students, convicts, the unemployed and men and women in need of instant cash.

It has been reported that CEO’s in the US blood industry can earn as much as 3 to 5 million dollars each year while the Board of Directors can accumulate $1 million plus annually. This is a lucrative business for Corporate America; a corporation that does not really care about the plight of its donors or its victims; only investors and shareholders matter and the UK has been a lucrative market for them all!

The US military term “collateral damage” applied in the Iraq war, plasma centres justify their business practices without any social responsibility; only profits matters! The consequences of the NHS’s “attitude of denial” bend on “cover-up and lies” including a failure to introduce “screening services sooner” are clearly exposed in Sir Brian’s Blood Inquiry Report now available to the general public.

However, there are lessons to be learned from this criminal tragedy but firstly, one has to recognize that justice is not only illusive but also very slow. The brave families of the victims adamantly refused to be convinced by dismissive explanations and lies of ministers, doctors including hospitals. Instead, they have chosen to fight for the truth until justice is done and see that those responsible, finally pay the consequences for causing the infected blood tragedy!

The disclosure of the report that a “deliberate attempt to make the truth more difficult to reveal, where some Government papers were destroyed and the loss of key documents including Ministerial advice and medical records” certainly indicate that a culture of silence had developed in a system that encouraged a systemic institutional cover-up that went on for years!

Caring groups, families and individuals across the nation fought for the truth and the rights of their loved ones many of whom, have already died! Actually, they fought a losing battle for the survival of those infected with Hep-C or HIV and all because of tainted blood transfusions meant to be saving lives! At the same time, victims were seeking justice with a voice of reason and determination to learn the truth but instead, they were confronted with a wall of obstacles and ridicule.

They did not give up and the Report has now vindicated the hardships and misery they have endured throughout the years. It has come to pass that good things happen because people make them happen while terrible bad things happen because people allow them to happen!

Sir Brian’s recommendations called for radical changes in the NHS with “more accountability and transparency” but also compensation to thousands of infected victims abandoned for so many years due to government incompetence and wrong policy decisions that failed to consider patient’s sufferings in an arrogant attitude that “only the doctor knows best”.

Two days later after Sir Brian Langstaff’s Inquiry Report was published, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak spoke out on behalf of his Majesty’s government in the House of Commons promising compensation worth billions to those infected victims. Most importantly, he had apologized for the injustice sufferers and their families had endured throughout their lives! He concluded: “Mr Speaker, on behalf of this and every government stretching back to 1970s…I am truly sorry!”

The official admittance of institutional wrongdoing is a step in the right direction and a welcome move for the 30.000 and more families including those mourning the death of 3.000 plus innocent victims. Justice however cannot be simply measured by compensation but also by the conviction to hold those responsible accountable for negligence and lies; heads must roll so no similar crime can ever be repeated again!

The seven-volume UK Infected Blood Inquiry Report triggers fundamental questions well above those mentioned in the inquiry: How many millions of innocent people and children have been infected because of US tainted blood exported to the UK and other countries? Would the British government hold the US accountable for its share of responsibility and pay towards the UK Infected Blood Compensation Scheme? Only time would tell!

Meanwhile, congratulations are in order to those brave families and heroes; the victims and their supporters for their determination to fight for the truth; a truth that has now become a shiny beacon for others to follow and seek justice!

Andreas C Chrysafis
Author/ Artist/ Writer
May 31, 2024

Andreas C Chrysafis was born of Greek parents in Cyprus and hosts a Cypriot, British and Canadian citizenship. He lived most of his life in the UK and Canada and now in Cyprus. He’s a published author of five books and a recognized artist while his thought-provoking articles (over 450) continue to be read globally. He is not political affiliated but a strong advocate of Rule of Law, Democracy, Transparency, Equality and Human Rights but also a robust opponent to Corruption.
https://www.amazon.com/Andreas-C.-Chrysafis/e/B00478I90O…
www.artpal.com/chrysafis

The copyrights for these articles are owned by the Hellenic News of America. They may not be redistributed without the permission of the owner. The opinions expressed by our authors do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Hellenic News of America and its representatives.

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