Will my coma girl ever recover from MMR jab?

Daily Express, June 2, 2002  

THE mother of a little girl who slipped into a coma just days after haying 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 G.  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 3 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.