A man who was diagnosed with hepatitis C after receiving infected blood products as a child has recalled the “nightmare” he endured.

Dean King from Ridgewell, near Haverhill, was given the virus through treatment for his haemophilia B, a blood clotting disorder which causes bleeding, when he was less than 10 years old.

He is one of many people who were diagnosed with conditions due to the infected blood scandal.

Mr King, now 45, said: “As a young child, I didn’t realise how potentially serious it was. But it was crushing to my parents and my family.

“It was hard to manage and get my head around. It took a massive tole on everyone. I was one of the lucky ones – I’m still here and I’m doing ok. The mental scars of that whole journey and process are huge.”

As a young boy in the 1980s, Mr King was given regular injections of replacement Factor 9 for his haemophilia.

But during the AIDS crisis, a link was identified between haemophiliacs who had received blood products and people being diagnosed with HIV/AIDS.

It was found that some of the blood products had been infected with the virus.

Mr King said: “My parents had to go through the agonising wait to find out if I was one of the haemophiliacs who had caught HIV. It was purely a lottery of who had had what treatment but I was very lucky I hadn’t.

“My parents faced a lot of stigma with me at my local primary school. They were determined I’d live a normal life. But when the AIDS crisis started to happen, some parents were quite unhappy I was at school.”

But this initial relief was short-lived.

Not even a teenager, Mr King was told he had contracted hepatitis C from the Factor 9 injections and there was no treatment at the time.

“As a haemophiliac, I was used to things going wrong so I just got on with it,” he said. “I didn’t have a full understanding of what it meant.”

Throughout his teenage years and early 20s, he had to undergo liver biopsies every few months to monitor the level of scarring on his liver, each time spending days in hospital.

And the constant worry had a devastating impact on Mr King.

He said: “It was a nightmare. We weren’t confident hepatitis C couldn’t be passed onto my wife or potential children. It was hard to manage and get my head around.”

East Anglian Daily Times:

Finally in his late 20s, Mr King was able to try a new treatment for the disease – interferon – which was successful.

But it was a gruelling treatment, he said.

Mr King added: “At the time we had a baby son and my daughter was four or five,” he said. “I was the only person at work. I just used to go to work, go home and go to bed. Some days I couldn’t function. It was horrible. It’s debilitating and has a huge impact on your life.”

Looking back at his ordeal, Mr King is angry at what he endured.

He said: “People were kept in the dark and they shouldn’t have been. There’s now clear evidence that this was widely known about and the risks were understood a long time before treatment changed.”

Mr King is grateful for the current ongoing treatment he receives from Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge.

He said: “They are a wonderful group of people. This anger is focused on the previous people running the organisation when I was very young, not today.”

He said was unaware for years that he was entitled to financial support.

“I was blissfully unaware for years and years that there was support financially from the government or a court process,” he said. “I should have been getting monthly support payments since 2017. I’d never even heard of it!

“I’ve always thought that the government hopes the numbers dwindle and it becomes a smaller problem than the one they’ve been faced with.”

With the Infected Blood Inquiry due to publish its final report on Monday, Mr King is hoping that justice is served.

The government has called the infected blood scandal an "appalling tragedy" and said financial compensation would be available.

“The enquiry has taken far too long and once again I suspect that’s by design rather than because it had to be like that,” Mr King said.

“I appreciate we had Covid during it but now when we get to Monday, my expectation is we need to see action and action fast. My biggest hope is the people who are seriously ill and in need of this financial support and compensation get it quickly.

“Alongside that, from my perspective, a genuine full and detailed apology and acknowledgement of what they’ve put people through is needed and a genuine commitment to see the right things done financially and emotional support.

"All these things need to be addressed fully and robustly.”