Woman whose father died of Aids from infected blood urges Government apology

A University of Cambridge worker whose father died from Aids after he was given infected blood has called on the Government to issue a public apology for its role in the contaminated blood scandal.

Elizabeth MacRae’s father Peter was infected with HIV through blood products he was given to treat his haemophilia, a condition that affects the blood’s ability to clot.

She said he died in 1991, aged 42 or 43, when she was 12 and her sister Kirsty was nine.

He is one of an estimated 2,400 patients who died after being infected with HIV and Hepatitis C through contaminated blood products in the 1970s and 1980s.

Ms MacRae, 43, of Ely, Cambridgeshire, attended the Infected Blood Inquiry in Central London on Tuesday, where Steven Snowden KC, instructed by Collins Solicitors, opened closing submissions on behalf of more than 1,500 core and non-core participants.

She told the PA news agency: “I’d like acknowledgment of what actually happened, so on the record: ‘We messed up, we’re sorry’.

“Because I think the truth is very important.

“I do think it’s important it gets publicly acknowledged so that future medics, future politicians, can learn about it in the history and know the full story and not make the same mistakes.

“And I know for a lot of people compensation is very important, not least for the infected, they have been ill their entire lives and at risk of dying their entire lives and there’s nothing that can be done that can take that back.

“And I know a lot of children of haemophiliacs who died or lost both parents had a really hard time growing up and didn’t have the same opportunities other children did.

“So I think for all those affected and infected, a compensation package would be the right thing to do.”

Infected Blood Inquiry
Elizabeth MacRae (Elizabeth MacRae/PA)

She works as a business and operations manager at Cambridge University’s department of clinical biochemistry at Addenbrooke’s Hospital.

Reflecting on the inquiry, ordered by then-prime minister Theresa May in 2017, she said: “It’s been a weird relief, relief in the sense that you hear so many stories that are so similar to your own, so it’s kind of reassuring that others understand what you’ve been through.

“But it’s also incredibly hard because every story is terrible, but there are some that are unbelievable.”

Her intervention comes before Eleanor Grey KC is due to deliver a closing submission on behalf of the Department of Health and Social Care on Wednesday.

She added: “Also I don’t have children and my sister doesn’t have children and the reason is that we were told when we were very young not to.”

She said she feels “cheated” out of being a mother, adding: “Had that one consultant not said that I might have been lucky enough to have children with my ex-husband.

“I hadn’t realised the option was available to me until I met others like me who had gone on to have children despite what they had been told.”

Infected Blood Inquiry
Elizabeth MacRae and her sister Kirsty with her father Peter (Shirley MacRae/PA)

Her father was born in Ormskirk, Lancashire, and when he was about one year old his mother was informed he had haemophilia.

He was infected with HIV through contaminated blood at some point after 1982, but was not tested for it until 1985 and did not get his diagnosis until 1986, she said.

She said: “I know that before that he had had several bouts of hepatitis, there’s pictures of him holding me while he’s yellow. We think he had hepatitis B as well as C, he’s definitely confirmed as having C.”

He initially “didn’t tell anybody” about his diagnosis until he started to develop Aids in 1991, she said.

She said he lost a lot of weight and started to stay in bed more before he fell out of bed and was admitted to hospital in August 1991, where he later died that November.

“He didn’t come home,” she said.

A Government spokesperson said: “Victims of the infected blood scandal have suffered enough.

“The Government fully accepts the moral case for compensation and has paid interim compensation to those eligible.

“This was only the first step. Work continues to prepare for the conclusions and recommendations of the Infected Blood Inquiry later this year.”