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Blood victim finally told she is free of Hepatitis C - 29 years after becoming infected

Michelle Tolley had blood transfusions twice when she was pregnant in the 1980s and early 1990s. Six months ago was she diagnosed with Hep C. PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY

Michelle Tolley had blood transfusions twice when she was pregnant in the 1980s and early 1990s. Six months ago was she diagnosed with Hep C. PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY

ARCHANT NORFOLK

A victim of the contaminated blood scandal has been told she is now free of Hepatitis C – 29 years after she was given a transfusion.

While she has to wait another six months to ensure no traces of the disease return, Michelle Tolley, 51, from Sparham said she is now “very hopeful”.

The mother of four was diagnosed with Hepatitis C after becoming increasingly concerned about her health last October.

That was after 28 years of misdiagnoses. She had been infected with the disease through a blood transfusion while giving birth in 1987.

The contaminated blood scandal saw thousands of patients given infected blood or blood products by the NHS in the 1970s and 80s. In many cases this has led to widespread infections, cirrhosis and cancer.

Mrs Tolley has been on a course of medication for the last three months, which appears to have rid her body of the disease.

“I got a call from the liver nurse to tell me it is now basically undetected in my blood stream,” she said.

“Now what happens is my medication finishes in about nine to 10 weeks, and six months from then there is a factor of time it when it can come back.

“There can still be a few fragments hiding away and that is all it needs to start multiplying again.

“The good news is that it is undetected. It is still going to be a long time but I am very hopeful.

“I am still very poorly because 
the virus has left me with various other problems in different organs 
in my body. They can’t heal things like excessive tiredness and some people never get over that.

“Sadly on Friday another of our community died from Hep C and it is so tragic all these lives have been lost.

“Mine crept up on me slowly and my body in the end would have shut itself down. It got progressively worse in a very short time and would have killed me.”

Since her diagnosis Mrs Tolley has been learning all she can about the scandal and how she became a victim of it, which she sums up as “chronic negligence”.

She now has cirrhosis of the liver, gastritis, oesophageal disease and calcified gall stones.

She is urging anyone who had a blood transfusion in the 1980s and 1990s, has had a tattoo or shared a needle, to get a check-up.

Visit hepctrust.org.uk for more information or call 0845 2234424.

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