Father joins legal battle to highlight vaccine risks

Sep 14 2002


Madeleine Brindley Madeleine.Brindley@Wme.Co.Uk , The Western Mail

EVERY night Philip Yendle lies awake watching his 12-year-old daughter intensely, fearful she will die as her body writhes under the strain of an epileptic seizure.

Every afternoon he monitors the television programmes she watches with more than just a parent's protective eye, afraid the sequence of flickering scenes will trigger an hour-long grand mal episode.

And every day he regrets ever allowing Sara to receive the second dose of the DTP vaccine that has changed her life forever.

"She was a perfectly normal baby, everything a child should be before she had the vaccine," the father-oftwo said.

"She'll be a teenager next year but she'll never have a boyfriend, she'll next get married, she'll never grow up.

"It's extremely hard knowing that I will have a toddler with temper tantrums for a daughter for the rest of my life all because of a vaccine."

The Yendles, who live in Tonteg, are one of 120 families attempting to sue the manufacturers of the combined diphtheria, pertusiss (whooping cough) and tetanus vaccine, Glaxo-SmithKline.

The Government has already acknowledged the DTP vaccine seriously damaged Sara when it paid out almost 90,000 compensation for her brain injuries.

But the family wants recognition from the pharmaceutical company of the dangers they claim the jab presents, despite GSK's repeated denials of any health risks.

Sara suffered a massive hour-long fit just 12 hours after she received the second dose of DTP when she was six months old.

Twelve years later and the little girl, who weighs barely three stone and stands just four feet tall, has suffered thousands of similar seizures, trance-like states and mini fits. She has the mental capacity of a child just a third of her age.

Sara has been diagnosed with severe epilepsy and brain damage, as a result of a bad reaction to the whooping cough element of the DTP vaccine. She must take handfuls of different drugs every day in a bid to minimise the intensity and number of seizures but health experts have said there is little hope her condition will ever improve.

Instead her frail body is slowly being poisoned by the large amounts of medication as it is racked by the daily fits. The seizures are most dangerous when Sara is asleep, when she could choke on her tongue and suffocate.

"When she had the first jab she was gasping for breath and her eyes were going funny. We thought there was some sort of problem and we were scared to go ahead with the second dose," Mr Yendle said.

"We took advice from a consultant paediatrician who said it was a perfectly normal reaction and we should go ahead with the second dose.

"But after she had it she had a fit for 45 minutes and she's been fitting ever since. We believe she had a mini fit after the first dose and she never should have had the second."

Mr Yendle no longer works as he is Sara's sole carer. His marriage buckled under the strain of looking after the 12-year-old, who cannot read or write and is sensitive to the light, 24-hours a day.

He spends the few hours Sara is at a special school every day washing the sheets she has wet during the night and her clothes which have become soaked with her own saliva - a side effect of the anti-seizure drugs.

At night he lies awake listening to every breath Sara takes as she sleeps in the same room as him, waiting for the half-dozen nightly seizures to start in the early hours of the morning.

"She knows now that there is something wrong - She tells me `Daddy I'm not feeling well,' or `I'm feeling funny,' and asks for her baby medicine, a form of valium we have to give her in an emergency.

"We've got no quality of life. We're locked into a cycle of fits and