St Albans woman ‘punished’ over blood disease

King Harry Park Houses

King Harry Park Houses - Credit: Archant

A St Albans woman plagued by health problems after receiving contaminated blood as a child believes the district council is “punishing” her for the life-changing consequences.

The haemophiliac has lived in social housing since 1996 and is battling St Albans district council (SADC) to move from her two bedroom home.

Her two children, aged 11 and nine, both also have bleeding disorders and share one bedroom.

The woman was one of about 5,000 people infected with Hepatitis C after being given dodgy blood products procured from high-risk donors including prison inmates in the United States in the 1970s and ’80s.

About 2,000 people have since died as a result of receiving the contaminated NHS-supplied blood or blood products.

The mum-of-two, who wants to be referred to as “Nicky” because of the stigma attached to the virus, received the contaminated blood during a tonsillectomy at the age of nine in 1980.

She was given plasma because her blood does not form clots and thus needs a blood protein known as “factor eight”.

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Although Nicky’s body has since cleared itself naturally of Hepatitis C she contracted Hepatitis G, a form of liver inflammation, from the tainted blood. She has also fought breast cancer.

Nicky was given blood products from a person who later died from Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.

She said: “Because of my health conditions we cannot get a mortgage as I have been given a host of viruses and pathogens.”

After bidding for bigger properties for several years, she was excited to recently be told by SADC the family had been shortlisted for a three-bedroom home on King Harry Lane.

However her hopes were quickly dashed when she was later told her husband’s earnings were over the council’s threshold of £49,860 and they would not be offered the home.

Nicky said: “I was devastated. Had they taken into account taxation, my husband and I would be under the threshold, but they don’t.

“This is not a lifestyle choice for us, and we cannot afford private renting in an area I was born and grew up in.

“I feel we are being punished for what was done to me.”

St Albans MP Anne Main, who has met Nicky several times, has written to SADC on her behalf.

She said Nicky’s case is both tragic and complex, and called upon the council to be more flexible.

Linda Middleton, SADC’s housing strategy officer, said: “Applicants with a medical condition can ask for a medical panel to review their application to assess whether any medical priority can be recommended.”

Nearly 170 families are on the waiting list for three-bedroom houses.