The story of Joseph--A mother's words

Informed Parent, Issue 4/2001

On the 15th June 1997 I gave birth to my first son. He was much loved and very wanted and I named him Joseph Paul. I had a normal pregnancy and Joe was born into the world a healthy boy. I remember holding him in my arms on the day he was born and feeling so much love for him. He was always a bright little boy, who loved life and everyone who met him were touched by his sunny personality.

In November 1999, when Joe was 17 months old I took him for the MMR vaccination. I was in two minds about whether to go ahead with it, as I had seen reports in the paper about possible side-effects and had my doubts. On the day of the vaccination I recall saying to the nurse at the surgery that I wasn’t sure I was doing the right thing, but she reassured me and the vaccination went ahead.

About 3 days after the vaccination I bad a call in work from Joe’s childminder to say that he was not well and I immediately took him to see a doctor. He had a high temperature and was not his usual happy self. The doctor prescribed antibiotics. At the end of December 1999 Joe suffered a febrile convulsion and was in hospital for 3 days. He made a recovery and was allowed home.

On the 25th January 2000, I was at home with Joe and we had a normal sort of a day. An hour before Joe went to bed he was playing in the bath, I then put him in his pyjamas and he ran straight to -his dad for a cuddle, and then went off to bed.

About an hour later I decided to go to bed myself, but when checking on Joe I knew something was seriously wrong.

After what seemed an age an ambulance arrived. My husband had spent those minutes breathing into Joe. We followed the ambulance to the hospital but I couldn’t believe what was happening. We were taken to a small room and seemd to be in there quite a long time. Eventually a group of doctors walked into the room and someone simply said to me "He’s gone". I remember asking if they were sure and they nodded. I couldn’t believe it. My whole world stopped. My life had revolved around my baby and he was gone. We found our way home and I remember walking into the lounge which strewn with toys. The silence which now seemed to rest on the house was awful.

I felt as though my reason for living had gone. Losing a child is a physical pain that hurts inside which I had never felt before and I hope I never feel it again. The cause of death wasn’t established straight away. We were paid visit by plain clothes police and I felt that I had to justify to them that I had been a good mother. One of the officers questioned me in the lounge and my husband was taken upstairs to Joe’s room and questioned there. They left and the officer that had questioned my husband walked down the stairs and out of the house carrying my son’s bedding without a word of sympathy or anything. We weren’t criminals we had only put our baby to bed.

A month or so later we had meetings with the pediatrician and Joe’s doctor. I had a lot of questions but always at the back of my mind was the MMR. I was told the vaccination had not contributed to Joe’s death.

After about 3 months I had a call from the doctor to say he had received a copy of the post mortem. It had been established Joe died from encephalitis. The post mortem could not establish the specific virus which had caused this. I don’t expect that this will ever be established because the doctor explained that once someone has died it is quite difficult to test for specific viruses.

A leaflet I recently read about the MMR vaccination stated that encephalitis has been reported very rarely after immunisation (about one in every million vaccinations). The cause of death on Joe’s certificate was stated as ‘cause unknown’ and yet it could have been possibly related to the MMR he received. Why wasn’t this investigated and how many other similar cases are occurring?

At the beginning of December, last year, I gave birth to identical twin boys, Matthew and James. I knew I would have to face the subject of vaccination again! I sent for a copy of a book entitled "The Vaccination Bible" which I found very useful and also confirmed my fears. Febrile convulsions and encephalitis are both side-effects of vaccination, and feeling that this was too much of a coincidence with Joe’s illness and subsequent death I decided not to allow my twins to be vaccinated. I understood that this was a huge responsibility so consequently I began to study and research nutrition and immune-boosting methods. There are certain nutrients, such as, vitamins A, C and E, selenium, zinc, iron, calcium, magnesium and potassium which are particularly immune boosting. Processed and refined foods and preservatives and colourings are all immune-suppressive, and even as little as l00g of sugar can suppress a child’s immune system by up to 50%.

Even though I have Matthew and James there will always be something missing from my life. Joe’s passing is something I will never get over but I somehow learn to live with it. I want parents to be able to make an informed choice, there are two sides to the debate about vaccination and parents should be presented with both. f.M. Sept. 2001