NEWS
28/09/2018 06:00 BST | Updated 28/09/2018 11:04 BST

Contaminated Blood Scandal: ‘I Lost My Husband And My Children Lost Their Dad – And It Was All Avoidable’

Widow wants infected blood inquiry to bring closure after years of struggle and grief.

Tracey Loder
Tracey and Charlie Loder on their wedding day.

Every day, Tracey Loder is struck with reminders of everything she lost when her husband Charlie was taken away from her as a result of being infected with contaminated blood.

“I feel anger that I lost my husband and that my children were robbed of their dad,” she told HuffPost UK.

Now the 50-year-old is hoping for answers as the first part of a government-ordered inquiry into the scandal draws to a close.

Tracey, who lives in Blackpool, met Charlie when she was 16 and he was 19.  He told her straight away he had the disorder haemophilia.

Charlie had been diagnosed at the age of eight months after his mum took him to the hospital with a knee injury and he wouldn’t stop bleeding during the surgery.

Haemophiliacs suffer recurrent bleeding, usually into their joints, because of a lack of a clotting factor in the blood. This also means injuries can bleed profusely and take a long time to stop.

When Charlie was about 11, he began a revolutionary new treatment called Factor VIII ,which gave him more freedom and meant he didn’t have to go into hospital all the time.

However, little did Charlie or his family realise that the Factor VIII came from blood imports from the US, much of it manufactured from blood plasma from thousands of paid donors, including ‘high risk’ groups such as prisoners and drug addicts.

Tracey Loder
Charlie Loder

Tracey said when she met Charlie in 1984, his haemophilia was under control and he only underwent treatment as and when he needed it.

But just a year later, Tracey accompanied Charlie to a routine hospital check-up, where the young couple were given the shocking news that Charlie had HIV.

“It was awful. They were very blunt and told Charlie he had HIV and there was no cure and that he was going to die,′ Tracey said. 

“It was horrendous for Charlie and he had to come to terms with being handed a death sentence.”

Charlie and Tracey got married in 1993 and bought a house. Being HIV positive, Charlie was unable to get life insurance, so Tracey got the house in her name.

When Tracey found out she was pregnant, what should have been a happy time was marred with fear as she had to be tested to make sure she had not been infected with HIV.

“It was very frightening as I knew if I had HIV, I would have to have an abortion,” she said. “Luckily, the tests showed I was clear and we had our daughter, Shannon.

“Charlie was bursting with happiness at becoming a dad.”

Six years later, the couple had a son, Bradley, using fertility treatment to minimise the risks of HIV.

Tracey Loder
Shannon, now 24, and Bradley Loder, now 18.

Charlie was also diagnosed with hepatitis C and after years of stable health, he suddenly deteriorated in 2008.

He was put on the organ transplant waiting list for a new liver, but died in 2009 at the age of 43. 

Tracey, who works as a podiatrist, was left with a mortgage and two young children – Shannon was aged 15 and Bradley just nine when they lost their dad. 

“My son doesn’t have many memories which is a real shame,” Tracey said.

“My daughter misses her dad terribly and it is hard for her on occasions like birthdays.”

To add to the family’s heartache, Charlie’s mum Rose, who they were very close to and who campaigned hard over the contaminated blood scandal on his behalf, died in January this year. 

Tracey Loder
Rose Loder, Charlie's mum, who died in January 2018.

Tracey said: “It is such a shame that my mother-in-law is not here to see the inquiry finally happen and to find out who is accountable for her son’s death.

“It was my daughter Shannon’s graduation this year and she would have loved to have her dad and her nanna there.”

Tracey says it has been a struggle to pay the mortgage on her own – but she counts herself as one of the lucky ones.

“It was a good thing I had a job. At least we didn’t lose our home – but there are hundreds who did,” she added.

“It is extremely hard for the widows affected by this scandal. A lot of them feel cast aside and life has been a struggle.

“I feel a lot of anger that Charlie died so young without living his life to the full. Something that was supposed to save him ended up killing him.”

Tracey Loder
Tracey Loder.

Tracey says there is evidence to show health officials knew the blood was infected for a number of years before they stopped using it. She hopes the long awaited inquiry will uncover things like this.

“This inquiry has taken a long time to come.This is the biggest NHS disaster and I want people to be accountable for it,” she said.

“I just hope it is not going to be a long, drawn out process as people are dying all the time. It feels like they are waiting for more people to die.

“People have already been dragged through so much. There needs to be no more brushing things under the carpet and everything needs to come out into the open.

“I want it to be done and dusted so there can be some sort of resolution and closure as the last few decades have taken their toll.”