Infected blood scandal: Experimented on and exploited – the Treloar’s School pupils who ‘lost everything’ | UK News

Returning to Treloar’s School brings back many bittersweet memories for Gary Webster, Steve Nicholls, Richard Warwick and Ade Goodyear.

This life-transforming school in the Hampshire countryside is where these men were sent as haemophiliac children to live and learn among other kids who needed the best round-the-clock medical care.

The school, with its on-site NHS clinic, was designed to help these boys live as near a normal childhood as possible.

Instead what happened here saw 75 of their schoolmates die of AIDs and Hepatitis. Only 58 pupils survived.

Unknown to the boys or their parents the haemophiliac children here were included in secret trials to test blood products that could be developed to use for patients with blood clotting disorders.

But the product called Factor 8 was being imported from America with blood farmed from prisoners, sex workers and drug addicts.

Warnings about the risk of using untreated blood products that had not been screened were known.

The clinicians went ahead regardless – even though a number of boys were falling sick.

‘They exploited access to our tiny veins’

Steve Nicholls became infected with Hepatitis C.

Steve Nicholls, became infected with Hepatitis C
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Steve Nicholls said access to their ‘tiny veins’ was ‘exploited’

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At a Hampshire school, vulnerable school pupils were used as guinea pigs and forced to inject themselves with blood taken in secret trials.

“We were all put on injections called prophylaxis, which means we were having injections usually every other day, three times a week,” Steve says. “So they had access to all our tiny veins – and then they exploited that.

“They put product in and they came out and they researched that blood without informing our parents.”

His schoolmate Richard Warwick, who was infected with HIV and Hepatitis C, recalls how the boys were made to inject the syringes filled with potentially deadly viruses into their own veins.

Richard Warwick recalls how the boys were made to inject the syringes filled with potentially deadly viruses into their own veins
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Richard said: ‘We were playing Russian roulette’

Richard remembers: “Every time we went into that treatment room in the morning and sat at the three-foot square white tables and were presented with bottles to mix ourselves on syringes full of Factor 8, right? To inject ourselves.

“We were playing Russian roulette. We didn’t know what we were giving ourselves.”

Documents presented to the Infected Blood inquiry show that the amount of Factor 8 blood product used at Treloar’s rose substantially during the 1970s and 1980s.

It was suggested that this was because doctors were treating patients preventatively.

Read more:
Blood donations ‘collected from UK prisons’
Bereaved families say loved ones were ‘used’

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How risks were missed during the scandal

Gary Webster, another former pupil infected with Hepatitis C and HIV, speaks for all the infected and those affected by the treatment scandal. He wants justice to be served.

He says: “We’ve been waiting many years for the inquiry to come on. It’s been going on for four years now, so I think we just want the truth to come out.

“I think we all want to be vindicated here. By telling our story of what went on during that period of time.”

Gary Webster wants justice to be served
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Gary Webster wants justice to be served

‘We lost everything’

Ade Goodyear also lives with Hepatitis C and HIV. His testimony to the inquiry was damning.

Ade Goodyear's testimony to the inquiry was damning
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Ade Goodyear’s testimony to the inquiry was damning

Ade recalls how he was brought back into class with a number of other boys.

The doctor lined them all up and callously, without feeling or remorse, simply went through the line with a raised finger: “You’ve got it, you haven’t, you’ve got it…”

The boys had little idea of the damage that had been inflicted on their bodies.

Ade tells Sky News: “We came to this school to be educated, as I said, and learn and leave and work.

“We lost everything. We lost our careers, we lost family members.

“The list goes on. So what we’re looking for is contrition. That’s quite important. To back them into a corner and contrition and an open and frank apology at every level. Every level.”

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What happened at Treloar’s is one of the darkest chapters in the contaminated blood scandal.

The school says it “placed its trust in the treatment and advice given out by the NHS clinic based on site at the time”.

In a statement, it adds: “This national scandal has devastated countless lives.

“As a school and college that is dedicated to supporting disabled young people, the stories of our former students who were infected are especially heart-wrenching to hear.

“Treloar’s staff, students and their families, together placed their trust in the treatment and advice given out by the NHS clinic, and the doctors and medical professionals who ran it in the 1970s and 80s.

“It has been shocking to discover, through the ongoing public inquiry, that some of our students may have received treatment there which was unsafe or experimental, and that the NHS did not always obtain sufficient consent.”

Gary, Steve, Richard and Ade will attend the publication of the report next week.

Many of their classmates did not live to see this day.