Will my coma girl ever recover from MMR jab?
SUNDAY EXPRESS - 02/06/2002, By Lucy Johnston
THE mother of a little girl who slipped into a coma just days after having the controversial MMR jab fears that her daughter will never make a full recovery. Three-year-old Levi Ellis started shaking uncontrollably and fell into unconsciousness a week after having the injection. Now her distraught mother, Cheryl Bell, 33, has vowed to seek compensation for Levi's ordeal.
The nightmare began just two days after Levi had the jab in January. "I had put it off for a while because Levi has asthma and she had not been well.
But my doctor said everyone else was having it, so I said she could too."
Just two days later, Levi's temperature was fluctuating wildly, she had a rash all over her body and seemed "far from her usual chirpy self".
Cheryl, of Glass Houghton, near Castleford, West Yorkshire, took Levi back to her GP. She was sent home with some calamine lotion for the rash and some paracetamol. The very next day things reached crisis point. Back at the doctor's surgery, Levi started fitting and collapsed. "We got her out of it, " said Cheryl, "but in the ambulance to hospital she started fitting again.
"When we got there she was taken from me and rushed into intensive care where they gave her lots of drugs. "It was touch and go for a while. I was frightened. I kept asking, 'Will she live, or will she die?' No one could tell me." Cheryl spent the night beside her daughter's bed at Pontefract General Infirmary. The next day Levi woke up, but was kept in hospital for another week, under close observation. But, says Cheryl, ever since coming home, Levi has "not been right. She used to be really aware, lively and chatty. She still gets the shakes. Sometimes it's like she is in another world. "I will be talking to her and it's like she can't hear me, and then she comes back, she misses bits. "She shakes when she sleeps and it scares me." Cheryl says her GP later told her that Levi had had a bad reaction to MMR.
Cheryl's two other children Stephen, 16, and eight-year-old Nathan both had the MMR jab without any ill effects. Cheryl is now "racked with guilt" and wishes she had listened to her doubts over Levi's asthma. Although a brain scan has not revealed any damage, Levi will need regular check-ups to monitor her progress. "I just don't know if she will ever be the same little girl she was, " said Cheryl, who plans to press for compensation under the Government's 1979 Vaccine Damage Payment Act. This is a special fund that allows parents of children affected by NHS vaccines to claim up to £100,000.
Cheryl added: "No amount of money will change what has happened to Levi, but if she needs anything in the future I want to be able to provide it."
The controversy over the combined measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine first arose in 1998 when a report in medical journal The Lancet hinted at a link to bowel and behavioural disorders. Although discredited many times, the report has persuaded many parents to shun the jab. The Department of Health insists that bad reactions to the MMR jab are unusual. About
600,000 vaccines are given every year. Of those, about one in 100,000 children will suffer side effects. In very rare cases the jab can cause inflammation of the brain, leading to coma and even death.
|By Vicki Shaw
A THREE-year-old girl slipped into a life-threatening coma just days after having the controversial MMR jab.
Levi Ellis began shaking uncontrollably and lapsed into unconsciousness exactly a week after having the injection.
Today mum Cheryl Bell said she planned to press for compensation over her little girl's ordeal.
Cheryl, 33, of Glass Houghton, near Castleford, said little Levi began acting strangely almost immediately after having the jab at Castleford Health Centre in January.
She said her daughter was visibly distressed, began to come out in a rash and suffered sleepless nights.
A week later, when concerned Cheryl took Levi back to her GP, the toddler began to have a fit and fell into a coma in the surgery.
She was admitted to intensive care at Pontefract General Infirmary where for the next 24 hours Cheryl kept a bedside vigil, fearing she could lose her youngest child.
Levi came round a day later, but spent another week in hospital under close observation.
Today Cheryl said she felt "huge guilt" and wished she had never allowed her child to have the injection. The mum-of-three, of The Croft, said: "I really thought I was going to lose Levi. I kept asking 'Will she live, will she live?' but no one could tell me."If you don't have the injection you think you are hurting your child and when you do, and something like this happens, you end up racked with guilt."
Cheryl has two other children, Stephen, 16, and eight-year-old Nathan, who both had the MMR triple jab without any adverse reaction.
The mum believes Levi's asthma might have triggered the serious side-effects, although it is not known for certain why the youngster reacted to the injection.
Cheryl added: "If I could go back in time, there's no way I would have let Levi have that injection. I would have taken my chances that she might have caught measles or mumps.
And she said Levi had continued to have problems since the jab, including a lack of concentration, and that her speech development had been set back.
She now needs to visit hospital for regular check-ups to see how she is progressing, although a brain scan has not revealed any damage.
"Now, I just don't know if she will ever be the same little girl she was," said Cheryl.
She now plans to press for compensation under the Government's 1979 Vaccine Damage Payment Act. A special fund allows parents of children affected by NHS vaccines to win up to £100,000.
"No amount of money will change what has happened to Levi, but if she needs anything at all in the future, I want to be able to provide it," said Cheryl.
Uptake rates of the combined measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine have plummeted since a controversial report in medical journal The Lancet in 1998 first hinted at a link to bowel and behavioural disorders.
The report, by Dr Andrew Wakefield at London's Royal Free Hospital, has now been discredited several times over, but many concerned parents have continued to shun the jab.
Instead, many parents are campaigning for single jabs, which they believe have less impact on a child's immune system. But the NHS currently refuses to fund a separate vaccination programme.
The Government, which insists the jab is "perfectly safe", recommends an uptake rate of 95 per cent to ensure "herd immunity."
But in West Yorkshire, the figure is around 80 per cent. Public health chiefs say serious reactions to the MMR vaccine are extremely rare.