A judge has increased an award of Anti-D hepatitis compensation by €70,000 after hearing that the plaintiff had developed cirrhosis and encephalopathy.
The unnamed plaintiff was given an anti-D immunoglobulin blood transfusion in 1977 that was infected with the Hepatitis C virus. She received an interim settlement of anti-D hepatitis compensation in 1998, and started undergoing ribavirin treatment in 2013 when test results showed the possibility of cirrhosis.
Unfortunately, the ribavirin treatment resulted in the plaintiff suffering the side-effects of decompensated cirrhosis and encephalopathy – a brain condition that manifests as forgetfulness and slurred speech. Both the decompensated cirrhosis and encephalopathy conditions are irreversible.
The plaintiff made a claim to the Hepatitis C Compensation Tribunal for a further settlement of anti-D hepatitis compensation earlier this year. She was awarded €180,000 but appealed the decision as an earlier plaintiff with similar side effects had received €250,000 anti-D hepatitis compensation.
The Minister for Health opposed the appeal on the grounds that the plaintiff had received treatment for cirrhosis before her conditions were diagnosed, and consequently her case was different to the one in which the higher award had been made
The plaintiff took the appeal to the High Court where it was heard by Mr Justice Bernard Barton. Judge Barton was told that the plaintiff´s conditions had been triggered by the ribavirin therapy and would not have occurred but for the treatment that was necessary to prevent the original diagnosis of cirrhosis.
The judge also heard that and that the plaintiff´s brain disorder in particular had caused her great mental anguish because the symptoms of the condition frightened her grandchildren, who the plaintiff was very attached to and who are a very important part of her life.
Judge Barton found in the plaintiff´s favour – saying that it was “only fair and reasonable” that her settlement of anti-D hepatitis compensation be increase by €70,000 to €250,000 and that it was within the High Court´s power to compensate the plaintiff for the pain and suffering arising from the treatment she underwent in 2013.