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A FATHER-of three who was infected with hepatitis from contaminated blood, has said haemophiliacs are being 'fobbed off and forgotten' by the Government.

Neil Weller, of Southmoor, near Abingdon, is among 7,500 people who were infected with either hepatitis C or HIV in the 1970s and 1980s as a result of tainted blood products.

The former newsagent has watched close friends die as a result and has demanded a full public enquiry into the scandal, which he said amounted to 'mass murder'.

It comes as a newly-seen letter from the Oxford Haemophilia Centre in January 1982 recommended humans, not chimpanzees, be tested on for 'infectivity'.

Mr Weller, 46, said: "Rather than an apology or money, we need an investigation. I just want the truth to come out. For the sake of humanity, do the right thing.

"These people were murdered. If you knew you had a syringe of HIV and you injected it into someone you would go to prison. It's a criminal issue."

The former newsagent was diagnosed with severe haemophilia at three months old and has been treated at the centre at the Churchill Hospital ever since.

He said: "I have constant bleeds in my joints and muscles, with associated pain and trauma. I can't even climb a ladder to change a lightbulb.

"I have had 22 procedures including 18 on my knees and ankles, and I've spent more than 500 nights of my life in hospital.

"This is what we have to live through on a day-to-day basis. So the contaminated blood was a kick in the teeth."

Along with scores of other patients he was infected by a batch of 'Factor VIII', a blood-clotting protein, in the 1980s but did not find out until years later when he was 22.

He said: "We were at risk of various viruses. I remember the room at the Oxford Haemophilia Centre where I was told I didn't have HIV.

"I though 'My God, what about those that have?'

"But sadly I wasn't one that didn't get away from hepatitis C.

"There was stigma and mickey-taking. We can't get life insurance or health insurance; there were times we couldn't even put haemophilia on job application forms."

Over the years he was supported by the Haemophilia Society and the 'brilliant' staff at OHC, who he said were not at fault and 'being directed from above'.

About 10 years ago his hepatitis C was treated and cleared, although he still feels the side effects of the virus, suffering aching joints and tiredness.

He has also attended the funerals of seven fellow patients from Oxford, and last year joined the Tainted Blood campaign for justice.

He said: "Things are bubbling away now and it's getting aggressive, which is brilliant, because it has been shut away for many years.

"The problem is, they knew the supplies were contaminated. They knew they were doing wrong and I feel fobbed off and forgotten like the rest of the haemophiliacs."

This letter could be evidence of a ‘crime against humanity’

A PREVIOUSLY-UNSEEN letter sent from the Oxford Haemophilia Centre has been held up as proof haemophiliacs were being used as test subjects.

The Oxford Times:

Mark Ward of the Tainted Blood campaign

Dated January 11, 1982, it includes guidance on the situation from two doctors, AL Bloom and CR Rizza, to centre directors across the UK.
It came to light during a Commons debate on Wednesday, April 26, cited by MPs as part of evidence for a ‘criminal cover-up on an industrial scale’.

In their letter, the pair noted that ‘at least four’ commercial companies were planning to introduce preparations of Factor VIII for NHS use.
They said products had been heat-treated or pasteurised ‘as far as we know’, but they also stated it would not be possible for the regulatory authority to check their safety.

They said: “Although initial production batches may have been tested for infectivity by injecting them into chimpanzees, it is unlikely the manufacturers will be able to guarantee this form of quality control for all future batches. It is therefore important to find out by studies in human beings to what extent infectivity has been reduced.”

The letter states the most ‘clear cut’ way to do this would be to test products on patients who had not previously had a transfusion, sometimes called ‘virgin haemophiliacs’.

It also says: “Although there is no doubt the introduction of hepatitis-safe products would constitute a major advance, we hope you will agree with us that their use on a named-patient basis would be undesirable, and might seriously hinder controlled studies in the future.”

Mark Ward, a researcher for the national Tainted Blood campaign, believes authorities violated the Nuremberg Code by not telling patients what they were testing.

Established in the wake of Nazi doctors’ trials following the Second World War, the code is a set of ethics principles for human experimentation.

Clause One states: “Required is the voluntary, well-informed, understanding consent of the human subject in a full legal capacity.”

Mr Ward said: “We are talking about non-consensual testing, and because we are an identifiable group, this could also constitute crimes against humanity.

“Oxford was the home where they first introduced haemophilia products and in the beginning the National Haemophilia Database was held in the Oxford centre.

“The care providers weren’t doctors, they were haematologists and scientists. When we went in they didn’t see little boys they wanted to help and care for, they saw us as lumps of meat they could test on. The general feeling was that haemophiliacs are expensive to maintain and we should get some value out of them as research.”

Dr Bloom died in 1992 but Dr Rizza took part in the Scottish public inquiry, known as the Penrose Inquiry, which published its findings in March 2015.

In the fallout from the report’s publication, he told the Daily Express, patients were not used as guinea pigs and were aware of the risks. He said: “Any medicine has to be trialled on human beings. You would explain to them what you were doing and if they didn’t want to take part, fine.

“I had some people who refused to take the material and they died. This was their choice.

“But what do you do in the middle of the night if a boy comes in bleeding with a very serious haemorrhage? You give them what is on the shelf.”