Giving evidence using the pseudonym Niamh, she told the
inquiry she was "stunned" when Professor Ernest Egan
made the comment at Galway Regional Hospital. She had had
herself tested without his knowledge.
"I was stunned, I couldn't believe that's all he
said," she said. "I was very surprised. How come
they didn't put me through this test? I had to go myself to
She added that Professor Egan did not refer her to a
specialist following her diagnosis. This was denied by counsel
for her doctor, Charles Meenan SC.
He said that his client had referred Niamh to a specialist
who dealt with Hepatitis and related illnesses. Niamh said
that her GP had made the referral.
Niamh was diagnosed with haemophilia, rare in a woman, when
she was six years old. She said that had she not taken the
Hepatitis C test herself, she would have remained ignorant of
her condition and could have infected others.
Since the diagnosis, a relationship has ended and she said
she had to cope with the condition by herself. She also had to
give up work because of the physical effects of Hepatitis C,
which cannot be cured, just treated.
"I was having a relationship with a man and when his
father heard he blew a fuse and it was all off," she told
"People say no-one will be bothered with me. I have
no-one I can talk to, I don't know what my lifespan is. I wish
I could have a normal life. I haven't the quality of life like
I had. I had a job and had to pack it up because it's too
much. I have no support whatsoever," she said.
"In my mind it's alive, it's active and it can get
worse at any time. Nobody knows what you have to go through
and keep it to yourself."
Meanwhile, the tribunal heard that a young man only became
aware of his Hepatitis C status last August, although his
medical records said he tested positive in 1994.
Using the pseudonym Frank, the witness said that he was
told at a meeting in 1994 by Dr Ann Tobin at St James's
Hospital in Dublin that he was negative, although his brother
had tested positive.
He added that he was "afraid" of attending the
hospital for treatment now, because on three previous
occasions he had to advise medical staff how to administer his
"It's almost like a stigma so you're afraid of having
it (Hepatitis C)," he said. Final submissions are
expected to the tribunal early next month.