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'We're so proud of the work he did, he gave his life to it. It was a shame he didn't live to see the Government apologise for what they did...' TAINTED-BLOOD CAMPAIGNER DIES JUST MONTHS AFTER HIS BROTHER.

Byline: JOSIE ENSOR

A HAEMOPHILIAC infected with contaminatedNHSblood, who led a campaign on the issue, has died just months after his campaigning brother.

Gareth Lewis, 51, from Cardiff, was one of 5,000 people, including his brother Haydn, who unwittingly caught HIV and hepatitis C in one of the biggest medical scandals of the past 30 years.

After years battling the illnesses, Gareth, who was also a trustee of the Haemophilia Society, set up the pressure group Tainted Blood in 2006 to fight for justice for suffering patients.

Mike Dorricott, a colleague at Tainted Blood, last night led tributes to Mr Lewis, saying: "He was quite ill, but you would never be able to tell by looking at him.

"The cocktail of drugs he was on gave his body a battering, which caught up with him in the end.

"He suffered dreadfully with the illness but campaigned for everyone else who was suffering too.

"We are so proud of the work he did; he gave his life to it for over 20 years.

"It's ironic it happened now because we are expecting an announcement from the Government on compensation for victims soon.

"It was a shame he didn't live to see the Government apologise for what they did."

As chairman of Tainted Blood, Mr Lewis lobbied Parliament to release documents relating to patients who were given the unscreened blood, which was thought to have been taken from US prisoners, whose risk of infection was much higher than that of the general population.

Tainted Blood's campaign won the support of Cardiff Central MP Jenny Willott.

Ms Willott yesterday told of how she was proud of "brave" Gareth, adding: "His death is incredibly sad, particularly coming so soon after his brother Haydn's death.

"They were both fantastic and dedicated campaigners and made a huge difference to the lives of the thousands of people affected by the tainted blood scandal. My thoughts, and I am sure those of the entire haemophilic community, are with Gareth's family."

Ms Willott and Tainted Blood continue to call for the UK Government to provide full compensation to all victims who were infected and to set up a National Haemophilia Committee in order to prevent another disaster of its kind.

Mr Lewis suffered a fatal brain haemorrhage on Monday.

NHS patients in the UK -many of them haemophiliacs - were contaminated with diseases such as HIV and hepatitis when they were given unscreened blood, thought to have been taken from US prisoners.

The inmates' infection rates were higher than the general population.

An independent public inquiry in 2007 found the Government was withholding paperwork documenting the mistake, which left nearly 5,000 patients with the deadly diseases.

More than half of those infected with contaminated blood in the late '70s and '80s have died as a direct result, including Gareth Lewis' brother Haydn who died earlier this year after a battle with liver cancer.

Victims who contracted HIV have been offered means-tested payouts from the Government of pounds 12,800 a year, while those who contracted hepatitis C have been told they will not receive any compensation.

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Gareth Lewis lobbied Parliament to release documents Haemophiliac Haydn Lewis of Cardiff who was infected with hepatitis C and HIV from polluted blood he was given in the 1970s and '80s
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Dec 16, 2010
Words:551
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