A man is calling for government and NHS figures to be “held accountable” after his late mother was infected with hepatitis B and C from a blood transfusion.

Margaret Lawler from Impington, just over the Suffolk border in Cambridgeshire, was given three units of infected blood following the birth of her youngest son at Mill Road Maternity Hospital, Cambridge.

The Infected Blood Inquiry’s final report is due to be published on Monday next week, with thousands hoping justice will be served.

The government had previously called the infected blood scandal an "appalling tragedy" and had "consistently accepted the moral case for compensation".

East Anglian Daily Times:

Mrs Lawler's son Mark said: “I feel that those responsible need to be held accountable for what they did to people like my mother.

“It’s how they make these people feel. I don’t think the government realise. I don’t think the local authorities realise. They take so much dignity away from everyone.”

Mrs Lawler quickly became severely unwell following the blood transfusion in 1977, suffering from jaundice, exhaustion, and eventually collapsing at home.

After investigations and lengthy periods in hospital, she was eventually diagnosed with hepatitis B and was initially told this was from the infected blood she received at Mill Road Hospital.

East Anglian Daily Times:

In a letter from the Cambridgeshire Area Health Authority to her GP in November 1977, Mrs Lawler was told: “It is extremely unlikely that Mrs Moore (later Lawler) became infected with the Hepatitis B virus as a result of the blood transfusion undergone at Mill Road Maternity Hospital as there is no evidence that any of the three donors had had the disease either in clinical or sub-clinical forms.”

The letter continues: “There has been no other known case of serum hepatitis notified since March 1977 from the Maternity Hospital, Cambridge.”

East Anglian Daily Times:

For the Impington woman, the stigma around her diagnosis was hard to deal with.

Mr Lawler said: “She was classed as promiscuous or a drug taker. She was 21 or 22 and the hospital were denying any responsibility.”

But for the family, the pain wasn’t over.

In the 1990s, Mrs Lawler was told by her GP she had been infected by hepatitis C in addition to hepatitis B.

What followed was a period of contradiction and confusion, with different medical staff disagreeing on her hepatitis C diagnosis.

One discharge summary document claimed that the hepatitis C virus had “spontaneously cleared” and was no longer present in the body.

But a 2016 liver ultrasound scan found liver damage “in keeping with cirrhosis”, suggesting the hepatitis C was still present.

Mr Lawler told the Infected Blood Inquiry: “During the treatment, my stepdad John commented that he had the feeling that it was always as though she was some sort of Guinea pig for clinicians."

East Anglian Daily Times:

Mrs Lawler died in February 2019 at the age of 63.

But her son revealed he has faced an uphill struggle in the search for answers.

“It seems every time you try and get somewhere you get hit by a brick wall,” he said. “All that’s happening now is you have less trust in the NHS, less trust with authorities.”

Despite being her son, Mr Lawler said he was denied full access to his mother’s medical records.

The GP charged him £130 for a dozen pages of notes, despite the Inquiry Chair Sir Brian Langstaff instructing NHS leaders not to charge any fees for accessing medical records relating to infected blood.

Mr Lawler said: “Out of mum’s 63 years, they sent me 23 pages that they would release. I wanted to know every time she had a biopsy or a test to help piece together the treatment she received and the tests were conducted.”

His late mother’s illness has taken a heavy toll on Mr Lawler.

“It’s just one cover up after another,” he said. “It affects everything from relationships to how you view people. People see me as this happy, smiley person but very few people really know me.”

While Mr Lawler has found support in groups like Contaminated Whole Blood UK, he still struggles with the loss.

And with the Infected Blood Inquiry report due next week, he finally wants closure.

He said: “I think the inquiry report has to address everything. But I feel during this whole process, they have tried to divide the blood community; they’re trying to put people in different brackets of how ill they are, and how they’ve been affected.

“No, give us all the justice we deserve.”