Contaminated blood inquiry: I have no trust left, says victim’s sister

John Conway with his sisters Christina McLaughlin (centre) and Patricia Kelly, hold a photograph of their brother Seamus Conway who died last year at 45 from liver cancer after contracting hepatitis C from contaminated blood product
John Conway with his sisters Christina McLaughlin (centre) and Patricia Kelly, hold a photograph of their brother Seamus Conway who died last year at 45 from liver cancer after contracting hepatitis C from contaminated blood product

The sister of a Londonderry man who died after receiving infected blood products said she has been left with “total mistrust” of the medical profession.

Seamus (Shay) Conway, a severe haemophilic, contracted hepatitis C after being given the contaminated product at a young age.

The late Seamus (Shea) Conway

The late Seamus (Shea) Conway

The father of one was diagnosed with liver cancer in 2017 and passed away just six months later at the age of 45.

Today, members of Mr Conway’s family gave evidence at a public inquiry in Belfast.

The inquiry is looking at how NHS patients were given infected blood products during the 1970s and 1980s.

Some 4,800 people were infected with hepatitis C or HIV as a result, and more than 2,000 are thought to have died.

Mr Conway’s brother John, and sisters Christina McLaughlin and Patricia Kelly, gave powerful testimony into how the ordeal devastated their family.

The siblings described how Seamus – a talented snooker player who once beat legend Jimmy White – was deeply embarrassed about his condition.

Christina said: “I think that shame came from the doctor telling him to keep it to himself.”

The inquiry also heard how Mr Conway became “a little reclusive” after being informed in 2017 that he had cirrhosis of the liver and had between three-six months to live.

Christina claimed that her brother was given the wrong impression by a doctor that his lifestyle was the cause of his cancer.

“I was so angry. I told him absolutely not, don’t you dare let that be said to you. This was a direct result of the hepatitis C,” she added.

John told how he and his brother – both keen Liverpool fans – had made plans to watch last year’s Champions League final in a bar across from Mr Conway’s house, but were unable to as his condition had rapidly deteriorated.

Instead, John recalled how he watched the match at his brother’s bedside on an iPad, with Mr Conway passing in and out of consciousness. He died two days later.

The siblings said opportunities had been missed to detect Mr Conway’s cancer earlier.

Christina said there was a failure to undertake regular scanning in the years leading up to his diagnosis.

She revealed that she is fearful she may have contracted hepatitis C from her late brother, adding: “Not only did they not warn Seamus of symptoms and things to look out for, they didn’t tell the family members to be careful.

“I have no trust left, and I would love that restored.”