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BBC Wales finds baby was infected with HIV after top doc ignored own rules

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THE latest episode of BBC Wales Investigates – broadcasting on BBC One Wales on Monday, April 15 at 8pm – has found that a 10-month-old baby was infected with HIV after a top doctor ignored their own rules.

When Colin Smith contracted HIV through contaminated blood, his parents’ house was daubed with ‘Aids dead’ and his father was forced to leave his job, the programme – Blood Money – finds.

Now 34 years on from his death from Aids at the age of seven, his family are facing another injustice.

BBC Wales Investigates reporter Wyre Davies has uncovered new evidence that Professor Arthur Bloom, the world-renowned doctor who gave him the infected imported blood product, Factor VIII, broke his own rules to do so.

NHS internal guidelines, written by Prof Bloom’s department, clearly shows that children should not be treated with imported blood because of the serious risk of infection.

“This wasn’t an accident,” said Colin senior, speaking in the programme.

“It could have been avoided.”

“I’m telling you, it was all behind a curtain,” said Colin’s mum, Janet.

“Everything Bloom done was not face-to-face it was behind-the-scenes if you like. What Prof said, what Prof done – we knew nothing about.”

Colin was born with the bleeding condition haemophilia. He was one of around 3,000 haemophiliacs who died after being infected with HIV and other viruses, like hepatitis, in imported blood products in the ‘70s and ‘80s.

These viruses got into the supply chain when high-risk donors, such as drug addicts and prisoners, in countries like the USA were paid to give blood donations. Those products were then bought by the UK.

Another victim, speaking for the first time on condition of anonymity, has kept his HIV condition a secret for almost 40 years.

He’s convinced Prof Bloom kept his HIV diagnosis from him while his wife was pregnant, and even tried to convince the couple to abort the child.

“They explained to us the situation that I was HIV positive and not to tell anyone – that was the biggest thing that hit me. Don’t tell anyone, we don’t want to frighten people. Keep it to yourselves and there’s nothing to be done. There’s no treatment available for it,” they tell the programme.

“I just hope to God it never happens again.”

“I think it’s our duty to tell this story because of the number of us that are already dead.”

BBC Wales Investigates has trawled through hundreds of pages of evidence. These documents show that drugs companies making the blood product Factor VIII, which is used to treat haemophiliacs, were aware of the risks of serious infection from the hepatitis virus as early as the 1970s.

The programme reveals that documents from Immuno AG – a pharmaceutical company which made the Factor VIII product used in the UK – shows senior executives knew products made from USA donors had a higher risk of viral infections, but they said the UK market would accept that risk because it was cheaper.

The programme captures the moment Colin Smith’s parents are shown the document for the first time.

“They weren’t worried about people’s health as far as I’m concerned. You get to a stage when you read things like that, to us it was murder,” said Colin’s mother, Janet.

Another Professor, who was mentored by Bloom and treated patients with infected blood products, told the programme that doctors and companies knew imported blood products carried serious health risks.

Prof Edward Tuddenham said: “If you go on selling a product that you know is potentially deadly just because you made a good profit from it, you’ve obviously rated your profit above the health and actually the life of the people who have been given the product.”

“There was a period when we were exposing patients to clearly horrific risk but we didn’t appreciate them or make the correct calculation of risk- benefit.”

Professor Bloom died in 1992.

The programme also examines the role of the UK Government, as the scandal was emerging, and asks why ministers continued telling the public there was “no conclusive proof” that AIDS could be carried in blood products.

And while victims, and families of victims, wait for compensation, the programme speaks to one woman who has been denied a payout, despite being able to prove she was infected with Hepatitis C through a blood transfusion in 1992 – after a cut-off date previously imposed by the government.

“It’s the recognition,” said Caz Challis. “It’s the not being told you’re not worth it. You don’t count. It’s the justice for the people who have been ignored.”

The infected blood inquiry is due to publish its final report on May 20th.

BBC Wales Investigates: Blood Money will be on BBC One Wales on Monday, April 15 at 8pm. It will also be available to watch on BBC iPlayer from Sunday.

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Community

Castle Square Bike Night raises funds for Blood Bikes Wales

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HAVERFORDWEST was abuzz with excitement recently as Castle Square hosted its much-anticipated Bike Night. The event, held on Wednesday, 22nd May, saw an impressive turnout of motorcycle enthusiasts from across the region, all gathering for a worthy cause.

Castle Square Bike Night, which began at 6:30 PM, transformed the heart of Haverfordwest. The event aimed to bring together bikers of all ages and backgrounds to celebrate their shared passion for motorcycles while supporting Blood Bikes Wales, a charity dedicated to providing free, out-of-hours transport of essential medical items to NHS facilities across Wales.

The square was a sea of colour and chrome, with bikes of all makes and models on the town square. From sleek sports bikes to vintage classics, the variety on display was a testament to the diverse biking community in Pembrokeshire. Riders and spectators alike admired the impressive machines, swapped stories, and enjoyed the atmosphere.

Donations were collected throughout the evening, with all proceeds going directly to Blood Bikes Wales.

The charity relies entirely on volunteers and donations to operate, and events like these are crucial in ensuring they can continue their vital service. “We are incredibly grateful to everyone who has supported us tonight,” said a representative from Blood Bikes Wales. “The generosity of the biking community is truly heartwarming, and it makes a significant difference in our ability to provide life-saving services.”

As the evening drew to a close, the success of Castle Square Bike Night was evident in the smiling faces and the positive feedback from attendees. The event not only celebrated the love of motorcycles but also highlighted the power of community action in supporting charitable causes.

Castle Square Bike Night has firmly established itself as a key event in the Haverfordwest calendar, and the organisers are already looking forward to the next gathering. With its combination of passion, community spirit, and charitable giving, it is sure to remain a highlight for years to come.

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Pembrokeshire farm tent camping site plans backed

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Plans to expand a tent site at a Pembrokeshire farm which has diversified into tourism since the 1980s have been backed by councillors.

In an application before Pembrokeshire County Council’s May meeting of its planning committee, Mr and Mrs James sought permission to expand a tent site at South Cockett Caravan and Tent Site, Broadway, Broadhaven.

The application included a number of enhancements which would improve its visual appearance.

The Council Landscape Officer has raised no objection, advising that the additional hedgebank is to be encouraged.

Speaking at the meeting, agent Andrew Vaughan-Harris said three generations of the James family had been farming some 140 acres, in a mix of sheep, beef and cattle, and now had 70 touring caravan pitches on-site after diversifying in the 1980s.

“It’s a good news story over the last 30 years, it’s now up to 50 per cent of their income,” he told planners, adding the applicants had invested £180,000 on-site in the last couple of years.

“They still want to have a site for tents, now we have the application in front of us for a further field,” he added.

He finished: “This is helping sustainable farming; it is creating jobs.”

Members of the committee unanimously backed a recommendation to approve the scheme.

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General Election: Pembrokeshire and Ceredigion hopefuls for new seats

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WITH a July 4 date announced for the General Election, confirmed candidates for the two new seats in Pembrokeshire and Ceredigion will be gearing up their campaigns.

As part of constituency changes, Pembrokeshire’s current seats of Preseli Pembrokeshire and Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire have changed.

As part of the changes, parts of north Pembrokeshire – including St Davids – are joining the new Mid and South Pembrokeshire constituency, which will replace the Pembrokeshire parts of the current Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire.

The north of the county will be part of a new Ceredigion Preseli constituency joining parts of north Pembrokeshire – including Crymych and Maenclochog – with Ceredigion.

Current hopefuls for the Mid and South Pembrokeshire seat are Welsh Liberal Democrat Alistair Cameron, with Stephen Crabb for the Conservatives and Henry Tufnell for Labour.

Candidates confirmed to date in the neighbouring constituency of Ceredigion Preseli are Ben Lake for Plaid Cymru, Liberal Democrat Mark Williams, a former MP for Ceredigion, and Welsh Labour’s Jackie Jones, and  Conservative candidate Aled Thomas.

The constituancy changes follow a Westminster vote to cut the number of Welsh MPs from 40 to 32; each constituency  must contain between 69,724 and 77,062 voters, with the exception of Ynys Mon.

The new Ceredigion Preseli constituency has a road distance of nearly 75 miles from the extreme north to southwest of the new constituency.

The Boundary Commission for Wales made minor changes to previous proposals, removing St Davids, Solva and Letterston from the proposed Ceredigion Preseli constituency and including the Maenclochog ward instead.

Mid and south Pembrokeshire, under the changes, will have the largest number of electors of any of the constituencies in Wales, at 76,820.

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