Girl disabled by jabs is refused compensation

Cocktail of vaccines left childe autistic and in agony, but tribunal is powerless to help

By Lorraine Fraser

Mail on Sunday June 11, 2000

jodiemarchant.jpg (14921 bytes)

A GIRL who developed autism and severe bowel problems after being injected with seven childhood vaccinations at once has controversially been refused compensation.

According to her parents, Jodie Marchant, now eight, was a healthy baby until she was given the multiple inoculation at the age of 14 months.

Today their child is severely disabled. She cannot talk, hardly eats and spends many of her days and nights in excruciating pain.

Now the couple’s MP, Alan Whitehead, is fighting to discover why the Vaccine Damage Tribunal refused the Marchants a possible payout of 40,000. And Health Minister John Denham has expressed his concern over the case.

Mr Whitehead, Labour MP for Southampton Test, said yesterday:

‘The tribunal which heard the case found that "although Jodie is severely disabled within the meaning of the Vaccine Damage Act she is not disabled as a result of a vaccination to which the claim relates". ‘As far as I can see that means that they have actually accepted that she was vaccine-damaged but because this was the result of a multiple injection on one day, and not a particular vaccine, the tribunal hasn’t got the power to consider it.’ Jodie’s mother, Patricia, 44, told how she took her daughter for a mumps, measles and rubella jab at their local health centre in Southampton in May 1993 but, unknown to her, Jodie was injected with vaccines against diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough and polio at the same time.

Within months, she says, her daughter became desperately ill.

Mrs Marchant said: ‘It has been a horror story. At 14 months my daughter was laughing, talking and walking. How could this happen?

Jodie stopped eating; she stopped sleeping; the weight fell off her. She was screaming in agony for hours on end; people said she would be better off dying. We just couldn’t get anyone to listen. There is still no one locally who will treat her.’

As they tried to discover what was wrong with their child, the couple learned years later that Jodie had been given seven vaccines at once. They are doubly furious because Mrs Marchant had refused consent for Jodie to have the whooping cough jab and this was noted in Health Authority records.

The family’s lives have been devastated; they have lost their home because Jodie’s father, Bill, 60, gave up his job to devote himself to fighting her case and could no longer afford the mortgage.

But at Christmas the Vaccine Damage Payments Unit refused an award and a recent appeal failed.

Mr Marchant said: ‘Jodie had seven vaccines at once. It seems that because that has never happened before they can’t help us.’

Mr Whitehead is now demanding to know what arrangements exist to compensate children who, like Jodie, have fallen ill after a multiple vaccination.

He said: ‘I have spoken to Health Minister John Denham and he agrees that this case, involving the administration of multiple vaccines on a single day, is exceptional. It must be possible for the tribunal to take that exception into account, but it appears they don’t and they can’t.’ The Government is already under pressure from MPs to improve compensation for children damaged by vaccines. A review is expected to report in the summer.

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