Department agrees compensation for Hep C victim


The Department of Health has confirmed it has agreed a compensation settlement with the family of a Cork woman infected with hepatitis C through contaminated blood.

The family of Ms Sylvia O'Leary (32), a mother of two, from Ballincollig, Co Cork, had accused the Minister for Health, Mr Martin, of delaying on an agreed compensation deal for her because she is at risk of imminent death.

She is currently on a life support machine in Cork University Hospital after suffering severe liver and kidney failure.

Ms O'Leary contracted hepatitis C through contaminated blood received during a liver transplant in 1991 at King's College, London. She had been sent there because such transplant facilities were not available in the State at that time. She has since undergone a second transplant.

Her husband, Mr Des O'Leary said this morning they were waiting for a firm commitment that the compensation package, understood to be in the order of €1 million, would be paid, in order to provide for his wife at home and afford her some dignity.

Mr O'Leary accused Mr Martin and his officials were "playing a game of poker" with her life on the basis that "if something happens to her they can walk away" without paying.

The family's solicitor, Ms Melissa Gowen, welcomed the deal but said the family were unhappy with the circumstances of the agreement.

"My client's family are happy with the outcome, but I should add that I am firmly of the belief, as they are, that it was only as a result of getting in contact with the media," she said.

"And the O'Leary family are appalled at the invasion of privacy that it has caused at this terrible and sad time for the family."