Ron was born in Birmingham; March 1956. He was the eldest son and had three sisters, one older, two younger and a little brother James, 10years his junior.
Both boys were mild Hemophiliacs, only needing treatment occasionally, mostly for Dental treatment.
As brother, they were close, despite the age gap. Ron was a real character, he was cheeky, charming, funny and intelligent and he was his younger brother’s hero.
James (Jimmy) was car mad! They would talk for hours about this car or that car and would often take their own cars apart, just to put them back together again.
In 1988 on a routine check, Jimmy was told he had contracted HIV from contaminated blood products. As a family we were devastated, we couldn’t believe it. Ron was tested too and his results came back negative (I still have his ‘all clear’ letter from the doctor).
Ron was heartbroken that his brother was so ill and he did everything he could to help him. Towards the end, when Jimmy was very ill, he was in a hospice and Rom would go to visit and carry him out to the car and drive him around Birmingham for hours. He was with Jimmy when he sadly passed away on 18th September 1991. He was 25 years old.
After Jimmy’s death Ron was so restless, he wanted to move away (run away from the pain, I think). So in January 1992 we moved our little family to Devon.
Soon after we arrived Ron became ill. He had tests, after test, after test and nothing to show for it. He was so tired all the time. He became so ill that he had to give up work. Things were hard with only me at work and three children to care for, but we struggled on.
In October 1995 a new Hematologist started working at our local hospital. The Doctor wrote and asked Ron to pop in to say ‘Hi’ just so they could meet. We always went to appointments together, but Ron told me not to worry this time, as it was only to meet up, just in case he had a bleed. So he went alone.
That was the day Ron accidentally found out he had HepC.
Apparently he had been diagnosed in 1990, but was never told.
Now his liver was so bad, it was cirrhotic and we were referred to Birmingham’s QE Hospital. Ron was put on the Transplant list in February 1996, He got his new liver on ‘Fathers Day’ 16th June 1996. Our youngest daughter was 6, she had never known her Daddy in good health.
The years that followed were quite good, apart from the traveling up and down the motorway for appointments and biopsies.
Ron embraced his second chance at life. His motto was ‘Make someone smile every day’ and he was true to his word. He spoilt our children, especially the youngest; he wanted them to have only happy memories. It broke my heart to hear him say things like this.
It’s ironic that we had moved away from Birmingham to Devon, as now we had to travel back and forth for hospital appointments. If they would only have told us, when Ron was first diagnosed, we would not have moved away.
Within a year of his transplant, the HCV had damaged Ron’s new liver and by 2003 he was back on the transplant list.
He got his second Liver on 20th November 2003 and he missed the Rugby World Cup as he was still in ICU, much to his annoyance!
I cannot put into words the next 10 months; I find it too hard to talk about. I’ll just say that he fought! He fought with everything he had and more!
I was with him every step of the way day and night. He didn’t want to leave his children or me, but he lost his battle for life on 1st September 2004, in my arms with his family around him. He was 48 and I cherish the last words he said to me ‘I love you’
We love you too Ron, forever and always.
Contaminated blood has wrecked our lives. Devastated and destroyed our family and we will NEVER get over our loss.