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Complainant Name:
Mrs Tracy Woodward

Clauses Noted: 1

Publication: Daily Mail


Mrs Tracy Woodward complained to the Press Complaints Commission that an article about her family - and specifically her sons' haemophilia - contained a number of inaccuracies and misleading statements. The complainant's central concern was that the thrust of the article - and in particular the headline "Was this woman right to have sons when she knew the terrible health risks they face?" - did not represent the reasons that she and her husband had made the decision to have more children without genetic screening, and invited readers to pass judgement on her decision. She was also concerned that the condition had been misrepresented as a "disease" where cuts and knocks could be life-threatening, when in fact current treatment prevented most of the symptoms.


The newspaper amended the online headline to state "Living with haemophilia: ‘It's not a life sentence' says mother of three" and updated the article to refer to haemophilia as a condition rather than a disease. The Managing Editor also wrote a letter to the complainant, expressing regret for the distress that the coverage had caused. In addition, the newspaper removed readers' comments at the foot of the online article, and published the following letter from the Haemophilia Society, both in the print version of the newspaper and online:

Great strides have been taken in the treatment for haemophilia, but compassion, rather than a lack of it, is what is needed for families like Tracy Woodward's (Mail), who are faced with very difficult decisions in planning a family.

As with many rare disorders, there's a distinct lack of public awareness about haemophilia.

It's true that for those who are aware that they carry a risk of passing on the condition to their children, genetic testing has afforded them greater opportunities to make an informed decision - but it's still a decision that can only be taken by the families concerned, in consultation with health professionals.

Around 22,000 in the UK are diagnosed with bleeding disorders, usually inherited, in which the blood fails to clot properly. They have treatment to try to prevent painful bleeding into tissues or joints, which can damage the surface of the joint, causing chronic pain and mobility problems.

Thanks to the high quality of care available in the UK, many people with bleeding disorders live full and active lives. A good example is Alex Dowsett, a professional cyclist with Team Sky and an Olympic hopeful who has proved that with the right treatment, you can have severe haemophilia A and reach the highest sporting standards.

The complaint was resolved by these measures, and by the publication of this summary of the case.

Date Published: 17/01/2012

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