BY Peter Diamond | July 12 2019 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print

1 - blood

Faith and Lourdes helped victim of infected blood scandal, inquiry hears

Catholic woman's moving testimony to inquiry into infected blood scandal

A victim of a contaminated blood scandal has revealed how her Catholic Faith and pilgrimages to Lourdes gave her the ‘resilience and strength’ to cope with a battle against Hepatitis C.

Eileen Dyson provided evidence at the Infected Blood Inquiry last week and directed stark criticism towards the NHS for their lack of care after she was infected with Hepatitis C during a blood transfusion following the birth of her son in 1988.

During her submission at the inquiry in Edinburgh on Wednesday July 3, Mrs Dyson, who is now free of the disease, cited the role her Faith has played in helping her to cope with the ‘stigma of having Hep C.’

 

Lourdes

The Motherwell Diocese parishioner also said that pilgrimages to Lourdes over many years helped ‘counter the cynicism of living in a [country] where the sick are so badly treated.’

The mum of two told the inquiry of the impact the infection had on her spiritual care as a practising Catholic.

“The impact on my ability to attend church has had a profound effect on my spiritual care and wellbeing as a practising Catholic,” she said. “There were long periods when I was too ill to attend church.”

 

Rejected by society

Mrs Dyson was given the blood transfusion in 1988 aged 29 but it wasn’t until 1994 that she was diagnosed with Hepatitis C and thereafter given no treatment plan for 14 years following the destruction of her medical records by Glasgow Royal Infirmary.

She said she was left feeling ‘completely rejected by society’ after being ‘lied to’ by the NHS. Her missing medical records, she said, continue to hamper her treatment.

Following her infection, Mrs Dyson had to give up her career as an international tax manager.

 

‘Crucial’ Faith

When asked by junior counsel Sarah Fraser Butlin at the inquiry as to how her Catholic Faith had helped her, Mrs Dyson said: “My Faith has been absolutely crucial to my resilience and my strength.”

She also highlighted how the Catholic pilgrimage shrine in Lourdes has been a welcome antidote to the perception of sick people in the UK and her own experience.

“Last week my husband and I travelled to Lourdes and most people think that you go there for a miracle, that’s why people would go to Lourdes,” she said.

“As a Catholic, my family and I have gone to Lourdes many times with the children not for a miracle, not for a cure, but actually to counter the cynicism of living in a state where the sick are so badly treated.

“When I was in Lourdes the sick are visible, they’re supported, they’re cared for and they’re valued.

“When I would come home it would help me see that humanity and my Faith were right; that there were good people in the world who cared about the sick and not what I saw when I came home; where the sick are hidden, abused by the NHS, discarded by society and that this fight for justice and for us to be listened to, to be heard, meant I could carry on through my Faith.”

 

Apology

The UK-wide public inquiry is in Scotland for two weeks to hear from patients who contracted HIV and Hepatitis from contaminated blood products in the 1970s and 1980s, and from the families of people who were infected.

Mrs Dyson said she expects she will need a liver transplant in the future.

The Scottish Blood Transfusion Society apologised for Mrs Dyson’s treatment and said its transfusions were ‘the most likely source’ of her infection.

The scandal has been labelled the worst treatment disaster in the history of the NHS, with around 2,400 people thought to have already died as a result.

The inquiry, before Sir Brian Langstaff, continues.

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