A Family's Bureaucratic Nightmare
(From the Chicago Sun Times, 10/10/96)
A DPT Reaction
Seizures From Vaccines
Severe Brain Damage from DPT
Seizure Reaction, Homeopathic Recovery
Our Children's Voices
Read these testimonials on Australia's Vaccine Awareness Network Web Site
Severe Reactions that Doctors Didn't Report!
Meryl Dorey, Vaccine Awareness Network, Australia
"If I could only turn back time! My beautiful 23 year old son has permanent brain damage from the reactions he had to DPT shots. As an infant, He had high fevers, large swollen area around injection site and went into convulsions. Later, he experienced many ear infections, loss of hearing in one ear and had difficulty in school. Being from a small town, school officials chalked him off as a "slow learner," had him tested several times and were told he was dyslexic. Last year, in an attempt to find the truth, I finally discovered the DPT theory and it all fits. He was retested and found not to be dyslexic but rather to have a malfunction in the brain. I remember with pain the time he would lay in his bed with a high fever, holding his head and pleading, "Make it stop Mom, it's going too fast, going too fast, going too fast..." It would appear some connection with the inner ear and the brain, was somehow short circuited during a fever, not allowing him to think properly. He was teased for his stuttering. One teacher called him stupid in front of the whole class when he couldn't read out loud.
In school, he could be given an oral test and do well, but anything written was extremely difficult for him. I got him thru English Lit by tape recording the books and then having him listen to the tapes. He was never able to attend college. My other son graduated with two degrees with honors. This only added to the second son's lack of self esteem. He is struggling with life now at 23, but Good God, if only I could turn back time! I would have gladly taken the risk of Whooping Cough.
Is there anything I can do to help insure that not one more baby is subjected to this threat?"
J.D., mother of vaccine damaged son
From the Chicago Sun Times, (10/10/96)
When Teresa and Jesse Gutierrez of Crystal Lake took their 19-month-old son Anthony in for his shots in 1993, he was a healthy, happy and normal child. Learning to walk and talk right on schedule, he already was feeding himself with a spoon. But soon after he received the shots, the family's life darkened. A pained Anthony regressed, refusing to walk or talk. Within five days, he showed symptoms of the diseases--measles, mumps and rubella--that one of the shots he received was supposed to prevent. In 10 days, he suffered a grand mal seizure. A series of spinal taps, CAT scans and other tests proved inconclusive.
Today 4-year-old Anthony is a medical textbook of problems: seizure disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, organic dysfunctional brain syndrome. A psychiatrist says Anthony is retarded. He is big enough to be mistaken for a 7-year-old, Teresa said, but he acts as if he still is in his terrible twos. The costs have been staggering for Teresa, a receptionist, and Jesse, who cares for Anthony at home full time. The medical and respite care costs could easily top $100,000 a year, much of it uninsured.
Teresa blames the shots. Anthony was given a full series of four shots, a rather heavy load they thought at the time. Assured that it was proper procedure and despite their misgivings, they allowed the shots to continue. Now they blame themselves, too. Jesse still has nightmares about holding down a screaming Anthony's legs. And the nightmare continues as the family feels trapped in a governmental maze ironically designed to protect those few children who suffer critical or even fatal side effects from the shots. Here's the problem: Government has mandated that children get these shots, which also protect against such diseases as diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus and polio. But if something goes haywire, parents are banned by law from suing the doctor or nurse who administered the shots or the pharmaceutical company that made them. This "no-fault" system is designed to protect the nation's vaccine supply from crippling lawsuits.
Yet how do you protect those children who do suffer from side effects? Enter a little-noticed agency that hands out big bucks in compensation. The Division of Vaccine Injury Compensation in the Health and Human Services Department has awarded $670.6 million in six years to 2,097 victims. But that's not the half of it, as about three-quarters of all claims are dismissed, reflecting the predominant view that vaccination side effects are very rare and almost never critical--even though almost 20 percent of the cases involved death claims. The Gutierrez family now has been waiting and waiting and waiting, to the point of despair. Months and now years have passed since they filed, and only now has the department proposed a "life care plan" for Anthony, which Teresa describes as far from adequate to cover his costs. Further action isn't expected until next year, and final action could take even longer. Just how long do victims and their families have to wait for fair compensation? In response to a freedom of information request filed by Rep. Cal Skinner Jr. (R-Crystal Lake), the agency said it doesn't keep track of those numbers.
Anthony's story is rich with other important issues: Should children be screened before the vaccinations? More research is needed into reliable screening tests and safer vaccines, Teresa said. Noting that her own physician failed for a year to report Anthony's reactions, she wondered how many other doctor s are not reporting, in ignorance or to protect themselves. Should parents have the right to refuse vaccinations for their children, even though, as Teresa readily acknowledges, the benefits for most children far outweigh the risks? She has unsuccessfully asked, on "moral" grounds, that her younger children not be required to be vaccinated as a condition for attending school. She isn't urging other parents not to vaccinate their children, but adds, "If I had another child with the same reaction, I would absolutely die. The guilt of having one child suffer like this is bad enough." Perhaps it would be easier for the family if they didn't feel that they also were the victim of a glacial bureaucracy. "If they are going to force me to do something," she said, "they had better be there to catch me when I fall."
Dennis Byrne is a member of the Sun-Times editorial board.
"...my son Jonathan was reactive to the DPT shot - high fever, swelling at the sight, unconsolable crying. Since then, Jon has been challenged with poor coordination. He never went through a normal crawling stage, he scooted on his belly. At the time I thought it was interesting, he looked like the Marine's sneeking up on enemy lines. I didn't know what a valueable stage of development crawling on hands and knees provides. He had a large amount of inner ear infections as a toddler. He didn't ride a bike until almost ten, and has no sustained interest in participating with his friends in sports. It's just to awkward for him. His buddies are so much more capable of hitting/kicking throwing. J has been diagnosed and it is obvious to anyone who observes him that he is a classic ADD child. It has been a difficult situation at school, not so much at home. Because of my doubts about the long term effect/benefit of Ritalin, I have spent a great deal of time/money on looking at alternative treatments for him. Many have had some positive benefits. Treating his many food/environmental allergies has been a part of this process.
"...Knowing what I've learned since J went through his childhood series of vaccinations, I count my blessing that J didn't have more severe reactions. I'm convinced that there is a link between his reaction to DPT and his attention/allergy/coordination problems. I am always looking for information. I am always attentive to anyway I can help him 'recover'."
Terry W., father of vaccine damaged child
"Up until the day Kaelan had his shot he hardly ever cried and was alway extreamly happy. He received his shot at 3 pm and I was proud of him for not crying at getting it and oblivious to any potential problems. At about 6pm he started crying hard and continued to cry harder than I ever imagined that he could. By 8 pm he still was crying and nothing I did could settle him and although he wasn't running a fever his leg got quite swollen and about this time admist his crying he's stop short his face would contort, he'd stop breathing, and his little body would go rigid for about 5 seconds. From this first one I knew he was having some sort of seizure so I immediately took him to the hospital here in town. The Dr there tried to convince me that he was just gagging because he was crying so hard and told me to go home and give him some tylenol. I convinced the Dr to watch his actions longer. Kaelan finally exhausted himself crying and fell asleep and even in his sleep the seizures would come and wake him and start crying all over again. The Dr admitted to never having seen "anything quite like it" before and agreed to send him to the Sick Childrens hospital in the city by ambulance. He continued to have seizures every 2-10 min for an 8 hr period. Even while he was in the emergency room at the sick childrens hospital the Dr's were trying to findout what else I could have given him that he would have reacted to and were talking about his next immunization. After giving him a lumbar puncture he was admitted under observation and released 2 days later with absolutely no conclusion as to what had happened. It wasn't until we saw the neurologist 4 weeks later (long story there trying to get an appointment in 1996) after he had another episode that it was agreed that he did indeed have "seizures" but she couldn't tell me what caused them. It will be months before he can have an EEG and a MRI done which will give her more information. Her only theory at this point was the 1/2 his brain is more developed that the other and that caused mixed signals, based on the fact that he shows a tendancy to reach with his right hand first and curls to the right when he's held a certain way.
For 2-3 weeks following his immunization he was so unhappy, cried and was inconsolable. Definately not his usual self, even now I'd say he's still not quite himself. But at least he is reaching all his developmental milestone right on track.
Now I wonder if I should worry about the anestetic for the MRI causing an alergic reaction?
I'm getting alot of "I don't know" 's. I don't even think there is anyone in this area that does homeopathy but it is definately something to look into."
"A few years ago I spent the better part of a summer working at a children's home, doing one on one care and play with Tyler, a 9-year-old boy braindamaged from a DPT shot. He was that one in 300,000 kid ---or whatever the actual stat is --- severely damaged from the vaccination. Tyler was, and probably is a hellion. Left alone in a room he would have everything torn off of the walls and knocked off of tables within a few minutes. Yet he was a happy wildchild, almost always smiling, except during "time-outs" for his natural, but to most, anti-social behavior.
Tyler at 9 could only make two sounds, one being sort of a ""uuu-huhh" sound which sounded like an affirmation but was used in many situations where, in our language structure, it didn't seem to fit. Tyler had to wear a diaper and be spoon fed as he was both too wild to sit still and did not often hold onto things learned, though he would recognize a person after they had gone from a room and returned. He only bonded with one other kid at the home, a little girl who liked to remove her diaper because it made her caretaker mad. In peaceful moments they'd ride together in a wagon, but that would never last long, too constrained for Tyler. The "experts" at the home continued with attempts to educate Tyler but concluded he would never likely function, metally, beyond that of a very young child. But like I said, he was happy and could also love or form some kind of feeling relationship. The biggest breakthrough in our brief work together was when he brought me a leaf he had pulled from a shrub. Normally he threw them to the ground and went on to his next (likely destructive) mission. I know that he was placed in the care facility because his parents could not handle 24-hour close supervision. For his sleep hours they used a restraint which he could often find a way to remove.
The most difficult aspect for Tyler of the DPT was sometimes severe periods of seizures. He had the type where he was fine and then would suddenly fly back and then shake, and also blank stare seizures. Eventually they took me off of his case because they felt he needed constant nursing supervision since the seizures were more frequent. I am still touched by Tyler and perhaps he was touched by me. Hard to tell of course. I don't have any answers on the vaccination controversy, only knowledge that Tyler on that one day with that one specific dose of DPT should not have been vaccinated. Maybe a different batch of DPT, or its administration in a different biorythm or circadian cycle might have led to better results. Who knows. In most cases conjecture about vaccinations speak of the many served and the few harmed. Well, when you are the one or get to know the one harmed, perspectives radically change. I don't have any children at this point so have not had to make those difficult choices that others face. Knowledge both complicates and frees. I'm sure Tyler's mother had an understanding of the possible difficulties with whooping cough etc.. if her son was not vaccinated. I doubt her physician mentioned, however, the possibility of brain damge."
This is a very difficult issue for many....and for our society.
"Well, my son was damaged from his second DPT shot, but fortunately for me, my story has a happy ending. You see, at my son's 2 month checkup, he was given all the standard vaccines. The doctor just told me that I should give him Tylenol, and that he'd cry and be uncomfortable for a few hours. Well, when we got home, my son was screaming, unconsolably. We gave him Tylenol, and he dropped into a deep sleep, for hours. I didn't want to wake him, thinking that he was probably just tired from his shots. Then, I took him to the doctor for his second series at 4 mos. When he recieved his shots, we went home. 2 days later, my son convulsed while I was feeding him. I called the doctor, and he sent my son to the hospital to get an EEG. He was testing for encephalitis (swelling of the brain), which is a complication of the DPT vaccine. It came out normal. Over the next 2 months, my son continued to convulse, and they kept getting worse and worse. I cried every single night, because I knew that if he did develop brain damage from the stupid shot, it would be all my fault. Finally, I heard about this homeopathic doctor, whom I took my son to. He gave him a homeopathic remedy, and told me not to get ANY more shots. Over the next few months, we kept taking him to the homoepathic doctor (he had to guide us through this), and spent hundreds of dollars. But we got our son back. I can only thank God that we were given a second chance with our baby, and I hope that other parents will give their babies a chance to grow up healthy, before it is too late."
Myths: Part I
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Myths: Part II