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British Minister apologizes after government blood scandal cover-up

2024.06.19 09:09:00 Anna Lim

[Blood donation. Photo Credit: Pixabay]

The Prime Minister of Britain, Rishi Sunak, has made an apology to the victims and their families of a huge cover-up of a blood scandal that a report has found.


Sunak stated, “I want to make a wholehearted and unequivocal apology for this terrible injustice. First, to apologize for the failure in blood policy and blood products and the devastating - and so often fatal – impact this had on so many lives…including the impact of treatments that were known or proved to be contaminated.”


The scandal has its roots in blood transfusions administered between the 1970s and 1990s, during which over 30,000 people were infected with HIV or hepatitis due to contaminated blood.


This catastrophe has resulted in the deaths of 3,000 people, while many others continue to live with life-altering diseases.


The government is now urging those who received blood transfusions during this period to undergo tests for HIV and hepatitis.


Most contaminated blood were imported from foreign countries.


In places like the U.S., people had been paid to donate their blood, including prisoners or drug addicts, which was what led to the blood being unsafe, as well as the blood not being tested properly.


Just one infected blood sample would compromise an entire batch, as blood treatment plants often mixed donations from multiple sources.


Those affected include people who had gotten blood transfusions during childbirth, after accidents, or due to having a genetic disease requiring blood plasma.


The ‘Infected Blood Inquiry,’ a public investigation launched in 2018, has brought these tragic details to light.


The inquiry published a report on May 20, 2024, which found that the government had not been careful with the screening of blood products, like taking years to treat blood products and taking the steps to eliminate HIV from them, and chose to ignore warnings about the safety of the transfusions, including the advice from the CDSC(Communicable Disease Surveillance Center) regarding the risks of HIV.


The CDSC had repeatedly advised the Department of Health and Social Security (DHSS) to stop the import of blood products until safety could be ensured.


These warnings went unheeded, and prompted the CDSC to issue a formal letter with recommendations to reduce the risks.


The 2,500-page report recounts numerous victim testimonies, including the harrowing case of 122 hemophiliac students at a single school who were injected with infected blood, leaving only 30 survivors.


Other cases included infected children being treated unfairly and robotically by the hospital staff that worked with them.


Sir Brian Langstaff, the judge for the blood inquiry, remarked, “People put their trust in the doctors and the government to keep them safe. That trust was betrayed.”


The report also highlighted instances of hospitals withholding or destroying medical records, leaving victims without vital information about their conditions for years, if they ever received it at all.


The government haspromised compensation of up to £2 million for victims, with their close family members, such as spouses and children, potentially receiving between £100,000 and £200,000.

Anna Lim / Grade 8
East Junior High