A former MG Rover worker has been awarded £750,000 after contracting a variant of the HIV virus from contaminated blood.
Alan Best, 64, developed human T-cell Lymphotropic Virus Type 1 (HTLV-1) following a blood transfusion during surgery for pancreatitis at the private Nuffield Hospital in Birmingham in February 1995.
The National Blood Service admitted providing defective blood after failing to screen for HTLV-1.
One of the five units the former toolmaker received in a seven-and-a-half hour operation was infected.
Mr Best, from Catshill, Bromsgrove, Worcestershire, developed HTLV-associated myelopathy, a rare bloodtransmitted disease affecting the central nervous system.
The illness forced him to give up work in March 2000 at MG Rover's Longbridge factory where he had been employed for more than 40 years since leaving school.
He said: "I enjoyed my job and was really keen to return to work after my operation.
"Although I lost more than four stone and was very weak, I thought it was just a matter of time before I got back to normal. Then late in 1996 I started to have unsteadiness in my legs.
"On one occasion, whilst on holiday in Jersey with my wife, Rita, I found I could not run across the road when I saw a car coming towards me. It felt like I was trying to run on ice.
"We had no idea what was causing it. Gradually, I began to lose sensation in my toes and my walking altered, but it was two years until doctors finally diagnosed HTLV-1."
The High Court in Birmingham agreed the award at a hearing in July after seven years of legal action. Details were released yesterday.
Mr Best said he endured the stigma of the condition which, like HIV, can be caught through drug abuse and sexual activities.
"It was suggested that I could have caused myself to be infected so I felt exonerated when they finally discovered that the blood transfusion was responsible for my illness," he explained.
"It never crossed my mind that what was wrong with me might have come from the blood.
"I thought that after all the HIV incidents that they screened the blood for everything."
Mr Best's solicitor, Timothy Deeming, from law firm Irwin Mitchell, said: "The National Blood Service carries out excellent work in saving many thousands of lives each year and we do acknowledge that it has a difficult assessment in deciding to what extent it should screen blood products. However, on this occasion, we asserted, and they have admitted, that the decision not to screen blood for this rare but extremely serious disease was the wrong one.
"As a result of Alan Best's case, the National Blood Authority has since changed its procedures and we understand that all blood donations are now routinely screened for HTLV-1.
"Sadly, this comes too late for Alan who now has to live with a progressively debilitating illness that has left him reliant on the help of others and could ultimately lead to him becoming wheel-chair bound."
The National Blood Service said in a statement: "Alan Best contracted HTLV-I following a blood transfusion in 1995.
"This rare disease was not tested for at the time in the UK and leucodepletion, which greatly reduces the risk of transmission, was not introduced until 1998/99.
"As such, when the National Blood Service was notified of Mr Best's condition, an investigation was promptly coordinated and under consumer protection legislation laws, a settlement was negotiated.
"Our thoughts are with Mr Best and his family."