A young woman shares her hepatitis C story.
When Aidan Bungey was diagnosed with hepatitis C, she feared her dream of becoming a pilot was over. But a new treatment has her reaching for the skies again, as she tells Sophie Goodchild
Since childhood, Aidan Bungey has dreamed of becoming a pilot. Every Saturday, the Liverpool University student gets up at 5am to climb into a two-seater PA38 Tomahawk with her instructor and take to the skies as part of her flight training.
A few years ago though, it seemed unlikely the 21-year-old would make it to college, let alone achieve her career goals. While still in the womb, Aidan was infected with the blood-borne hepatitis C virus from a transfusion her mother Sally* received to treat Crohn’s, a chronic inflammatory bowel disease.
Aidan and her mother are victims of contaminated blood, a scandal that has affected thousands of others including those with haemophilia who received clotting products from the US in the 1970s and 1980s.
In the UK, blood screening was not introduced by the NHS until September 1991 because no test was available before then. The Body Shop founder Anita Roddick, who died 10 years ago, was among the many who subsequently discovered that they had received a transfusion from an infected donor. It is still unclear which blood donation that Sally received was to blame for her infection. During the 1980s she received several, and medical records were not computerised at the time so establishing the truth is a challenge. When she became pregnant with Aidan, Sally had no idea the virus was in her bloodstream because symptoms of hepatitis C can be mild, almost flu-like. In her case, she had none and only found out she had the liver disease from routine tests after Aidan was born.
One of the unlucky ones Doctors did not think to test Aidan as a child. Like her mother, she displayed no symptoms and the chance of her being infected in the womb was tiny. For every 100 infants born to women with hepatitis C, only around four (babies) become infected with the virus. Unfortunately, Aidan was one of the unlucky ones, as she discovered aged 15 while studying for her GCSEs.
“I was feeling sick, exhausted and lost 3st in weight,” says Aidan, who is in her third year of studying Aerospace Engineering and Pilot Studies. “The doctors thought I had Crohn’s like my mum. Fatigue is one of the symptoms [of Crohn’s] because you can get anaemia, which is triggered by bleeding in the gut. When the tests came back they checked them three times because they were so unusual.
“I will never forget the day I found out I had the disease. My GP, who has known me since childhood, said, ‘I’m really sorry’, then started crying, as did my mum. It didn’t hit me until that night – my mum walked into my bedroom and I remember saying: ‘Am I contagious? Am I a danger to other people?’”
|Read Full Article: ‘I will never forget the day I found out I had hepatitis c’ – The i newspaper online iNews|