Wife describes husband's horrific death after he was given infected blood

A wife has described how her husband suffered a "horrific death" from hepatitis C after he was given an infected blood transfusion in hospital.

The couple in happier times before infected blood took its toll on the family. Picture: PA

Karisa Jones told the first day of the Infected Blood Inquiry in Cardiff both she and husband Geraint were let down by doctors who failed to pick up on signs the couple were both carrying the virus until 22 years after the transfusion.

The mother of three said her husband, a manager of a frozen food company, had his right leg crushed by a forklift truck in 1990, leading to him undergoing an amputation below the knee and having several emergency blood transfusions at Morriston Hospital in Swansea.

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Mrs Jones said the couple and their three daughters "got on with our lives", while rashes on Mr Jones's leg in later years were put down to the way he positioned himself while sleeping in bed.

But in April 2012, they were put on alert when Mr Jones began vomiting blood.

Mrs Jones, from Pontardawe, near Swansea, said: "He was awful. He was very pale and shaky.

"I had never seen so much blood coming out of his mouth. We came rushing into hospital and I knew it was something serious, but that it could be treated or whatever."

The couple were summoned for a meeting with doctors and told a scan had shown Mr Jones had a "massive tumour" on his liver and had also contracted hepatitis C, giving him just months to live.

Their family were tested for the virus as a precaution, with only Mrs Jones coming back as having contracted it from her husband.

Mrs Jones said: "He was devastated. He blamed himself for what happened to me as well. He said to me that he would still be alive to make sure after my treatment I was OK, but it wasn't the case."

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An inquest found he died from cirrhosis of the liver caused by hepatitis C.

Mrs Jones said: "He was yellow, his eyes were yellow. He was a skeleton of a man. He couldn't eat. He was vomiting blood up all the time.

"I've never seen such a horrific death in all my life. He suffered. He fought and he suffered."

Mrs Jones delayed her own treatment so she could spend time with her husband, and was eventually given the all-clear six months later despite still claiming to suffer from side effects of the treatment.

She said: "I lost my hair, all my skin broke open into sores. I couldn't eat food as everything tasted like soap. I was vomiting from morning to night. I was too weak to move and I was tired. I had no quality of life because I was so ill.

"I'm so down and depressed, it's just a totally different life to what it was before I went on the treatment."

She said she believed opportunities were missed by doctors to detect her infection, which would have also alerted them to her husband's, when she attended hospital in the years before their diagnosis, including in 2000 when she showed flu-like symptoms and tests showed her liver readings were high.

Thousands of patients were infected with HIV and hepatitis C via contaminated blood products in the 1970s and 1980s, and around 2,400 people died.

The inquiry is chaired by former High Court judge Sir Brian Langstaff, who has promised to put people at the heart of the probe.

He told the hearing the scandal was "the greatest treatment disaster in the history of the NHS".

Sir Brian said: "We do not have the luxury of much time, for people continue to suffer and die. But those who are not heard orally during this week, and those in other centres who would like to be heard, but for whom there is no time for them to speak orally, will be heard."

Two previous inquiries have been branded a whitewash by campaigners.

Previous witness hearings have taken place in London, Belfast, Leeds and Glasgow.