This country needs to wise-up and sort itself out.
Twenty one years ago the Anti-D Scandal in Ireland was made public.
Anti-D is an immunoglobulin given to women with Rhesus negative blood who have given birth to babies whose blood is Rhesus positive. As the twentieth century drew to a close, it was discovered that sixteen hundred Irish citizens had contracted Hepatitis C as a result of contaminated Anti-D, manufactured by the Blood Transfusion Service Board.
My book Blood Debts (Scotus Press, 2014), a translation of Fiacha Fola (Cló Iar-Chonnachta, 2004) gives an account of the scandal as seen through the eyes of one woman infected with Hepatitis C. Many have commented that the book, though written in 1999, is still ‘fresh’.
A compliment, as far as the writing is concerned, perhaps. What makes the book still relevant today, though, is the frequency with which atrocities involving the health of women and children in this country come into the public domain.
At the moment news items include the investigation of the maternity unit in Portiuncula Hospital, the symphysiotomy cases, vaccine trials on children in the care of the State, the redress issue for Magdalen Laundry survivors, the Tuam babies. The list goes on.
I’ve discussed how I came to write Blood Debts and A lesson in Can’t in The Irish Times Book Club.
This country needs to wise-up and ask itself: when will atrocities such as those listed above become a thing of the past?