Gill Fyffe read English at the University of St Andrews and was awarded an MLitt with distinction for a verse biography of Rose de Beauharnais, the empress Josephine. When a contaminated blood transfusion at the birth of her daughter Lucy infected her with Hepatitis C, however, she was forced to give up her job as a teacher at Fettes College to battle first the disease and then the side-effects – including extreme photosensitivity – of the experimental drugs meant to cure her. Gill now lives in Soho.
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Freight, March 2015
In 1988 Gill Fyffe undergoes a traumatic birth, requiring a blood transfusion. Over the following years, she struggles to raise her family, experiencing constant and extreme fatigue, at one point falling asleep at the wheel and crashing her car. When her daughter is seven she receives word from the authorities her transfusion was contaminated. She has Hepatitis C, a virus that destroys the liver. Gill is treated with Alpha Interferon. The treatment fails because it is too late. Because of the crippling side-effects, including memory loss, photosensitivity with skin that cannot tolerate sunlight, she has to resign from her job teaching in a top private school. She cannot sue, because it is too late. Financially ruined, Gill uncovers years of unheeded warnings about the safety of blood donations and a shameless official cover-up.
LifeBlood is the extraordinary, heart-breaking story of how a woman s life has been affected by one the UK’s biggest medical scandals. It s also a remarkable portrait of a family under stress, and how it comes to value what really matters. As a major inquiry is due to report after many years of delays, Gill’s story is a timely and explosive reminder of the human cost of placing profit before ethics and the establishment’s unwillingness to compensate for its mistakes.
Praise for LifeBlood
Beautifully written and deserves to win a prize
The truly tragic tale of how one woman’s life has been affected by one of the UK’s biggest medical scandals… Fyffe is determined to uncover the truth
This is a brave book, dominated by questions of blood after an accidental infusion of tainted blood. The book never offers facile comfort: it confronts human error, human bravery, and human incompetence
This is a story of medical incompetence, political malfeasance, financial hardship and real long-term horrible suffering. It is also one of the funniest, most buoyant, triumphant books I’ve read in ages – tragi-comedy at a very high level, delightful and admirable