Infected blood victim from Hackney told daughter to 'keep fighting for justice' the day he died

Infected blood victim from Hackney told daughter to 'keep fighting for justice' the day he died

A London woman who says her father contracted Hepatitis C after a blood transfusion has called for the Government to “take responsibility” for the scandal.

Reverend Clifford Samuels, from Hackney, is thought to have caught the disease during an operation to remove a stomach ulcer at the Prince of Wales hospital in Tottenham in the 1970s. He died aged 75 in 2019 after suffering from the virus unknowingly for decades.

Rev Samuels’ family is currently pursuing compensation, however, the NHS says that it has lost the medical records that contain notes on his operation. The Prince of Wales closed in 1993.

Campaigners have warned that hundreds of families affected by the infected blood scandal could be left without compensation due to the loss of medical records for procedures that happened decades ago.

His daughter Alicia Samuels told the Standard: “On the day my father died, he told me ‘please don’t give up fighting for justice’. The people who made this mistake are not the ones who have lost someone. They still get to live their lives. We are living with this pain everyday.”

She described her father as “a funny, loving” man who led a busy life working as a reverend in a local church and running a furniture shop.

“He would give you the shirt off his back,” said Ms Samuels, who is pursuing compensation with the help of law firm Leigh Day, who are representing about 300 people affected by the contaminated blood scandal.

Later in life, Rev Samuels developed numerous health problems, including cirrhosis and liver cancer. He was not diagnosed with the virus until the early 2000s, when it was picked up in a blood test by his GP. Delaying a hepatitis C diagnosis is known to cause serious health effects, such as irreversible liver damage.

“I never thought he would be taken down so quickly. It was heartbreaking,” said Ms Samuels. “When he died, I was sic months pregnant. He never got to see his grandson. We had been so excited for that.”

Reverend Clifford Samuels with daughter Alicia as a baby (Handout)
Reverend Clifford Samuels with daughter Alicia as a baby (Handout)

Rev Samuels’ story matches that of dozens of claimants who have given testimony to the Infected Blood Inquiry over the past five years.

“The compensation will never bring back my dad, and that is all I want. But we know the Government has the money and they should cough up and take responsibility. All we want is justice, if I can’t get then I feel like I have failed,” added Ms Samuels.

She spoke out as the final report into the worst treatment disaster in the history of the NHS was due to be published on Monday.

The Infected Blood Inquiry concludes after decades of "tireless" work by campaigners.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is widely expected to issue an apology following the publication of the report, which will lay bare the scale of the failings.

Tens of thousands of people in the UK were infected with deadly viruses after they were given contaminated blood and blood products between the 1970s and early 1990s.

These include people who needed blood transfusions for accidents, in surgery or during childbirth, and patients with certain blood disorders who were treated with donated blood plasma products or blood transfusions.

Some 3,000 people have died and others have been left with lifelong health complications after being infected with viruses including hepatitis C and HIV.

It has been estimated that one person dies as a result of infected blood every four days.

The inquiry was first announced by former prime minister Theresa May in 2017, with the first official hearing held on April 20 2019.

It is one of the largest UK public inquiries.

Some 374 people have given oral evidence, and the inquiry has received more than 5,000 witness statements and reviewed more than 100,000 documents.

The chairman of the inquiry, Sir Brian Langstaff, has previously said that "wrongs were done at individual, collective and systemic levels".

Campaigners have hailed the publication of the report as the "end of a 40-year fight".