Contaminated blood scandal: Woman tells inquiry of husband’s trauma – and harrowing effect on her family’s mental health

Christine Norval speaks at the Infected Blood Inquiry. Picture: Infected Blood Inquiry

Christine Norval speaks at the Infected Blood Inquiry. Picture: Infected Blood Inquiry - Credit: Archant

The wife of a contaminated blood scandal victim told the ongoing public inquiry into the issue that the fallout from her husband’s 30 years of illness almost led to her own suicide.

Bruce Norval - contaminated blood

Bruce Norval - contaminated blood - Credit: Archant

Christine Norval, whose husband Bruce was infected with hepatitis C after receiving tainted blood products, also said the toll had contributed to their daughter's serious psychiatric illness.

Bruce had been a patient at the Royal Free Hospital while living in Kilburn, but the family now live in the Scottish Highlands.

Speaking at the Infected Blood Inquiry's hearings in Edinburgh, Christine spoke of the toll hep C - and the treatment for it - had taken on Bruce, too.

She said: "Mentally and physically he has never recovered from the treatment. I have visions of him with the needles waiting to stick it into the stomach. He was in distress knowing he had to do it, but also knowing how poorly he would feel afterwards."

Christine also told the inquiry of the fear that surrounded her growing family in the 1990s, while treatment left Bruce struggling.

She said: "I can remember thinking maybe it would have been better if this child wasn't here."

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Christine told the inquiry's chair Sir Brian Langstaff that her own mental health had reached crisis point. She said at one stage: "I got the car and drove up to the edge of the river. At that point I had two new children - that's what brings you back. I rang Bruce and he just said: 'Come home.'"

Christine explained the couple's daughter had "grown up acutely aware of her dad being ill" and "never had the security of knowing her dad would be there the next night", and has since suffered severe mental health issues too.

Christine added that campaigning had taken over Bruce's life, both for good and for ill.

"It's the first thing he speaks of when he wakes up and the last thing he will speak about when he goes to bed," she said.

"There is not a half an hour when discussion doesn't turn to the campaign, or someone is phoning up. He is constantly speaking to people about it."

She continued: "There's just this small group of people keeping going.

"We are not going to let it go until this is sorted out."

The Infected Blood Inquiry continues in Cardiff on July 23. Hearings will return to London later in the year.