ON the face of it, softly-spoken housewife Liz Green has nothing at all in common with a drug-taking convict in an American prison.
But a cruel twist of fate means the pair will be linked for life - through a single but potentially deadly virus.
Liz, a 57-year-old grandmother, had never given a thought to the unknown prisoner thousands of miles away until she received an unexpected note from health officials almost 30 years ago.
It read simply: ‘You tested positive for Hepatitis C.’
Born with a bleeding disorder similar to haemophilia, Liz had heard the horror stories of fellow sufferers catching HIV or Hepatitis through ‘tainted blood’ used in transfusions.
What she didn’t realise was that the NHS and drug companies had been buying in vast quantities of blood taken from prisoners and even prostitutes in the United States to produce clotting concentrates for thousands of English patients.
“I didn’t want to know. I tried to ignore the fact that I had Hep C. There was still a huge stigma being HIV or Hep C positive in those days so I couldn’t talk about it,” she recalls.
Liz continued with her daily life throughout the 1980s and 1990s, bringing up her daughter, working in the outpatients’ department at Milton Keynes Hospital and having regular infusions of blood factor products to treat her disorder.
But over the years the secret legacy of Hep C took its toll. She became tired, felt continually nauseous and her joints ached.
Now ill health has forced her to quit her job and her days are spent quietly at her Springfield home, where she is unable to do more than read books or simply potter.
Her reluctance to talk about her Hep C has now been replaced with anger. And, for the first time in her life, she is fighting for justice, both for herself and other tainted blood victims from all over the country.
“The NHS made us ill and the Government is doing nothing about it, It is absolutely scandalous that this went on for all those years.”
“We want apologies; we want a public inquiry and we want the compensation we deserve.”
By the mid 1980s all donated blood was heat -treated to kill viruses before it was used for patient treatments.
By then more than 5,000 people already had Hep C and 1,200 were HIV positive too.
Since then 2,000 people have died while more are suffering ill health.
Last year an inquiry headed by Lord Archer of Sandwell described the tainted blood saga as an “horrific human tragedy” and criticised the health authorities for being “lethargic” about the dangers of imported blood all those years ago.
Today (Thursday) the government is discussing an Early Day Motion tabled in support of the proposed Contaminated Blood Bill, which would offer support for infected or bereaved victims of the tainted blood scandal
It is supported by city MP Mark Lancaster who says: “Both the Government and I take the issue of contaminated blood very seriously which is why, as promised, I’ve raised it on behalf of Ms Green with the minister who I know intends to address her and others’ concerns during the debate.”
Liz is now urging other people to pledge their support by signing a petition on the national Tainted Blood Campaign website www.taintedblood.info/index.php.