Search

Contaminated blood scandal: Patients slam top medic over recording – ‘we were treated like lab rats’

PUBLISHED: 08:00 13 September 2018 | UPDATED: 16:26 13 September 2018

Mark Ward. Picture: Polly Hancock

Mark Ward. Picture: Polly Hancock

Polly Hancock

Contaminated blood scandal victims have slammed the former director of the Royal Free Hospital’s haemophilia centre after unearthing a recording which sees her admit to non-consensual blood testing of patients and criticise campaigners.

One anonymous victim known as patient B – who contracted HIV and Hepatitis C after being given contaminated blood products at the Royal Free – said the news made him feel “like a lab rat”.

Another former Royal Free patient, Mark Ward, told the Ham&High: “It doesn’t surprise me. I know now, looking back, that when I was transferred to the Royal Free, it was as a piece of meat for their research.”

Mark was also infected with HIV and Hep C by the blood products given to aid clotting.

In the astonishing recorded interview, which formed part of the Royal College of Physicians’ (RCP) oral history project, Prof Christine Lee admits to routinely storing the blood of haemophilia patients without permission and to testing these samples for HIV and hepatitis C, again without consent.

Jason Evans, whose father Jonathan died from Aids, is the lead claimant in the group action law suit. Picture: Archant/Emma YouleJason Evans, whose father Jonathan died from Aids, is the lead claimant in the group action law suit. Picture: Archant/Emma Youle

In the recording, she says: “Every time our patients with haemophilia came we collected a sample which was stored in our deep freezers.

“We didn’t ask their permission.”

This is a shocking confirmation of what patients have long believed: they were targeted and experimented on without their knowledge after medical staff became aware of the potential risks of using blood factor concentrates.

In the recording, Prof Lee also admits that from 1983 onwards staff knew “100 per cent of people” given the Factor 8 blood products would get hepatitis C.

Factor VIII blood products infected thousands of haemophiliacs with HIV and hepatitus C during the contamniated blood scandal of the 1980s and 1990s. Picture: Factor 8 Campaign UKFactor VIII blood products infected thousands of haemophiliacs with HIV and hepatitus C during the contamniated blood scandal of the 1980s and 1990s. Picture: Factor 8 Campaign UK

The Department of Health has previously said they “sought to be fully transparent on this tragedy” and that “we took steps to protect patients according to the best information then available”.
Patient B said: “It makes me feel sick to the stomach that Christine Lee and others have used us as lab rats to study, like they owned us, all in the name of research for their own gain.

“How many haemophiliacs have gone to their graves never knowing the truth of what these people have done to us?

“To hear my former centre director laughing about not obtaining consent from me and other patients in order to further her private research is disgusting and I hope that she will be held fully responsible for her actions.”

Prof Lee, who was recorded speaking in June 2015, also claimed the “few patients driving this are probably after money, actually”.

Factor VIII blood products infected thousands of haemophiliacs with HIV and hepatitus C during the contamniated blood scandal of the 1980s and 1990s. Picture: Factor 8 Campaign UKFactor VIII blood products infected thousands of haemophiliacs with HIV and hepatitus C during the contamniated blood scandal of the 1980s and 1990s. Picture: Factor 8 Campaign UK

The scandal saw thousands of haemophiliacs infected by contaminated blood and blood products supplied by the NHS during the 1970s and ’80s.

More than 2,000 people died as a result.

The recording was discovered by campaigner and investigator Jason Evans who founded Factor 8 Campaign UK, and is leading the group legal action brought against the Department of Health.

Jason’s father died of Aids after contracting HIV from Factor 8 products.

Jason told the Ham&High:This will cause huge ripples in the community. This is the first time that there’s been this kind of admission of non-consensual testing [at the Royal Free’s haemophilia centre]. I couldn’t actually believe what I was hearing.

“Listening to Christine Lee speak so nonchalantly and even laughing about the non-consensual testing of haemophiliacs in this way is extremely disturbing.”

Although this the first audio to surface of a top doctor admitting to non-consensual testing, testing of the blood and organs of haemophiliacs has previously been admitted – both in medical journals and by the GMC.

Des Collins, of Collins Solicitors who are representing many of those affected by the scandal, told this newspaper: “That people were being tested and effectively being used as guinea pigs, without their knowledge, is horrific. It is also, sadly, another demonstration of why the Infected Blood Public Inquiry is so long overdue.

“Ultimately, the inquiry will get to the bottom of what happened and why, as well as identifying those responsible. But for many – including those ‘treated’ by Christine Lee - it will be a difficult journey.”

The independent public inquiry into the contaminated blood scandal is due to begin on September 24, while the group legal action is currently running through the High Court.

When contacted through the RCP, Prof Lee declined to be interviewed by the Ham&High.

Factor 8 Campaign UK, has been made a core participant – meaning it has the right to legal representation – in the forthcoming inquiry. It is a non-profit support and advocacy organisation for those affected by the contaminated blood scandal.

Latest Hampstead & Highgate News Stories

Yesterday, 17:30

Letters, contributions and comments sent in from Ham&High readers this week.

There are more than 3,000 homeless families housed by Haringey Council in temporary accommodation in the borough and more than another 1,000 housed outside the borough according to Trust for London.

Yesterday, 15:23

A woman from Temple Fortune turned have-a-go-hero and chased a pair of criminals – causing them to drop a wad of stolen cash – after an elderly woman was robbed at a Temple Fortune cashpoint.

Yesterday, 13:15

Haringey Police are appealing for infomration after a 40 year old woman was sexually assaulted on a Muswell Hill Bus.

Yesterday, 12:53

Two rogue swans rapidly regretted the decision to land on the Hampstead Heath ponds when the resident swan family chased them off the water and left them “a bit battered” on a grass verge.

Yesterday, 12:51

Westminster City Council has announced plans to bring its housing programme back in house for the first time in 16 years.

Two hundred years ago, while lodging locally, John Constable completed a series of paintings memorialised Hampstead as a sleepy village, then perched past the outskirts of London: the very model of idyllic country living.

Yesterday, 11:16

A reward of £10,000 is being offered for information into the 2013 disappearance of Kilburn man Robert Duff – who police believe may have been murdered.

PROMOTED CONTENT

Looking to get your child interested in a sport? Allianz Park, home to rugby union team Saracens, welcomes people of all ages to join their family of supporters and discover how their core values Honesty, Discipline, Humility and Work Rate underpin everything they do off and on the pitch.

As part of a major refurb, the London Marriott Hotel Maida Vale has renamed its three new-look function rooms to reflect the geography and rich history of the area. The largest, perfect for weddings and large meetings, is named after a Hampstead subterranean river, The Westbourne.

Londoners seeking high quality houses for sale within easy commuting distance of the capital are being advised to look north to St Albans’ prestigious Gabriel Square development.

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Most read Hampstead & Highgate news

Show Job Lists

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Hampstead & Highgate Express
e-edition today

Subscribe

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now