Get them for what they’ve done – woman tells blood inquiry of son’s last words

A mother who believes that doctors misled her about the condition of her son, who died after contracting HIV, has told an inquiry his final words to her were: “Get them, mam, get them for what they’ve done.”

Margaret Madden said she feared that her child, Daniel, was severely ill, but the Infected Blood Inquiry heard she was told: “You are just getting hysterical over nothing, there is nothing wrong with him.”

The 68-year-old explained on Friday how she believes her son caught the virus when he was injected with the Factor VIII blood product from the early 1970s onwards as a “miracle” antidote to his haemophilia.

But she said that, in 1985, she discovered spots on her child’s body, which were dismissed by a GP as being chickenpox.

The inquiry, which is currently sitting in Leeds, heard how her son started to bleed and lose weight, at which point she read about what a magazine – given to her by a Jehovah’s Witness – termed the “gay plague” and realised the symptoms matched Daniel’s.

She said that, when she took him to the haemophilia centre at old Pendlebury Children’s Hospital in Salford to discuss her fears, she was alarmed by the fact that doctors and nurses were dressed in gowns .

Ms Madden said they told her: “You are just imagining it and you are just getting hysterical over nothing, there is nothing wrong with him. It’s your imagination and you are just getting upset over nothing.”

She said: “Of course, by this time I am crying, I am screaming: ‘I think you are lying to me, there is something going on and I want to know what it is’.”

Telling how she vowed never to return to the hospital, she explained she how later attempted to take her son to the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle, but midway through the drive her son became seriously ill on the back seat.

She said: “When I turned round, I couldn’t believe my eyes. He was covered in blood. I just couldn’t believe what I was seeing.”

Daniel Madden
Daniel Madden

The witness said that she then rushed her son to a hospital in Middlesbrough, where she was told that he had just three and half pints of blood left in his body, and that if she had continued to drive to Newcastle he might have died.

After treatment, Daniel was eventually taken to the Royal Victoria Infirmary, where his HIV diagnosis was confirmed.

After hearing that her son might have as little as six weeks left to live, she said that she thought: “I have killed my son – I was the one that had injected him.”

Having been forced to stay at a farmhouse near Darlington in order to get her son regular treatment in Newcastle, Ms Madden told how she had to move out when the farmer said he feared his turkeys would be contaminated by Daniel’s illness.

She said that the tyres on the car they then had to stay in were slashed by vandals and that someone wrote an offensive message about her son suffering from Aids on the vehicle.

The inquiry heard how she repeatedly had to move house due to people defacing her property, saying that at one stage red crosses were drawn on her front door.

She told the inquiry: “I used to feel like people were always looking at me and talking behind my back, even the teachers at school treated me completely differently.”

Daniel Madden
Daniel Madden

The inquiry heard how her son eventually developed thrush and effectively “starved to death” at the age of 20 on August 19 1992, with Ms Madden saying: “He knew he was going to die. He just knew.

“His last words to me were ‘Get them, mam, get them for what they’ve done’.”

She said that, at the time of his death, her 6ft 1ins son weighed just six stones, and was capable of being picked up “like a doll”.

In order to fulfil her son’s dying wish, she drove him from Stockton to his birthplace in Manchester to be buried – but said she was told to cover his body in sawdust and put him in a lead-lined coffin.

Ms Madden said: “[It was] obviously so that he could not contaminate the dead. That’s the only thing I could think of that for.”

Explaining how her mother and her cousin, who were also haemophiliacs, both died after contracting hepatitis C, she said: “It shouldn’t have happened. Why did it happen? We all want to know why.”

The inquiry, which is looking into the infection of thousands of NHS patients with HIV and hepatitis C through contaminated blood in the 1970s and 1980s, continues in Leeds on Tuesday.