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July 23 2006
Paralysed children's legal fight over MMR
By Lucy Johnston
Two families whose children became paralysed after combined measles, mumps and rubella jabs have launched legal actions against the drug companies.
Shane Lambert and Fadi Khawaja both developed transverse myelitis - an incurable disease of the spine - after being given the injection.
Shane, now 11, received the MMR jab at 13 months old, and is now doubly incontinent and wheelchair bound.
His mother Sandra, 39, from Mansfield, Notts, has been granted legal aid to sue drug manufacturers Merck.
Fadi, now 22, was given the vaccine when he was 10. The next day he complained of aches and pains in his body. He became increasingly unwell and after several days the pain in his legs became so intense that he could not sleep.
His mother Houda, 44, was last week granted legal aid to sue GlaxoSmithKline.
Mrs Khawaja, of Motspur Park, Surrey, said: "He got weaker and weaker until he couldn't even climb the stairs."
At first Fadi's GP dismissed his symptoms as an infection and prescribed antibiotics. But the drugs had no effect and Fadi's condition worsened.
He can now only walk small distances using crutches and suffers a range of debilitating health problems. "Fadi was perfectly healthy and running around until he had the vaccine," his mother said.
"There is plenty of evidence that the jab and his condition are linked and we want justice for him."
The two cases are being launched alongside 35 other claims for a range of medical disabilities associated with the vaccine including brain damage, epilepsy and deafness.
Parents are seeking legal aid after funding was withdrawn for a group action.
They follow the case of a boy in America who was awarded £32.2 million after losing the use of his limbs following the triple vaccine. Mario Arturo Rodriguez, from Washington, developed transverse myelitis after he had the jab at one year old. Now seven, he was given the money from the American government's National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program to pay for a lifetime of round-the-clock-care.
Dr Marcel Kinsbourne, a world leading child brain specialist who was an expert witness in Mario's case, said "MMR is three live viruses and we know live viruses can trigger tranverse myelitis."
James Merow, the senior judge in Mario's case, echoed these views when he concluded: "There is a wealth of persuasive support....for the proposition that the MMR vaccine can cause transverse myelitis.."
But the Department of Health said there is "no established link" between the MMR vaccine and transverse myelitis,
Shane's mother Sandra Lambert said: "The MMR jab was the only thing that happened that could have caused his paralysis.
"I'm cross that the Government don't accept this can happen as the American health authorities do."
Jackie Fletcher of Jabs, a support group for parents who believe their children have been damaged by vaccines, said: "This mantra of all vaccines are safe and all adverse events are a coincidence cannot be sustained by the Department of Health without the consequences of parents shunning vaccines."
Merck would not comment, and no one was available to speak for
Sunday Express Opinion
July 23 2006
Clear up the MMR mystery
The decision to allow legal aid for two families in their fight for compensation against the makers of the MMR vaccine will be a worry to millions of mums.
The families in court have children they say were crippled by side-effects from the controversial triple vaccine jab and are citing a recent American case where a similar victim was awarded £32 million.
What is going on here? In Britain the Department of Health steadfastly maintains that the MMR vaccination is safe. It is backed by medical authorities. But many mothers believe their children have contracted autism from the jab. Others have been refused the option of taking the vaccine in separate stages. Now, because of missed jabs, measles and mumps are on the rise.
Tony and Cherie Blair should have set an example and told us whether their son Leo had the MMR jab. Then we'd all know just how safe they thought it was.
THE MAIL ON SUNDAY – YOU MAGAZINE 23rd July 2006 – Page 63
Latest twists in the MMR debate
The MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccination has been controversial for
more than a decade. My experience goes back to the mid-1990s, when I interviewed
a government scientist who admitted there were risks of encephalopathy
(degenerative brain disease) but didn’t think it was in the public interest to
publicise them. Then, in 1998, following research by Dr Andrew Wakefield and his
team at the Royal Free Hospital, London, a link was suggested between MMR and
children who, after being vaccinated, developed autism and bowel disease, known
as autistic enterocolitis. (The other doctors later retracted this
interpretation of the research findings.)
In 2002, a group of scientists in Dublin found fragments of the vaccine-strain measles virus in the guts of a group of children with this syndrome. Now, early reports from researchers at the Wake Forest University School of Medicine in North Carolina, who are examining 275 children with regressive autism, show that of the 82 tested so far, 70 have tested positive for the measles virus in the guts. Two more groups, in America and Switzerland, will report soon.
None of the scientists has claimed there is proof positive that MMR causes autistic enterocolitis, but they say there is cause for concern and more research is vital. A Department of Health spokesperson, however, told me: ‘MMR is the safest and most effective way of protecting children.’
A review of 31 articles by the independent Cochrane Library does not agree, concluding that: ‘The design and reporting of safety outcomes in MMR vaccine studies, both pre- and post-marketing, are largely inadequate.’
London GP and writer Dr Richard Halvorsen has spent seven years investigating this topic in depth. He says: ‘The evidence suggests to me that the MMR vaccine triggers autism and bowel disease in a small minority of susceptible children.’ The children most likely to be at risk include those with pre-existing bowel problems (such as diarrhoea), who have had repeated infections and recurrent courses of antibiotics. ‘It seems possible that giving the live measles virus with two other live viruses is too much for the compromised immune systems of these susceptible children, so it gets left in the bowel and this may be the cause of the ongoing problems,’ says Dr Halvorsen.
He advocates single vaccinations (‘which the NHS should provide’), starting with measles, ideally at 15 months for maximum effectiveness. ‘This probably reduces the risks dramatically,’ he says, ‘and is as, or more, effective than the combined MMR.’ He recommends a gap of six to 12 months before another vaccination, to enable the child’s body to get rid of the virus.
Since no vaccination is 100 per cent effective, the government recommends two MMR vaccinations at one and four years; but Dr Halvorsen prefers children to have a blood test to see if the first measles vaccination has taken effect. Mumps and rubella pose a lesser risk to children (and one-third of girls given two MMRs are likely to lose immunity to rubella by their early 20s anyway), so he suggests parents consider whether they want infants to be vaccinated against these, or to have a blood test in their teens.
For more information, visit Dr Halvorsen’s website, www.holbornmedicolservices.com.
For data on vaccine-damaged children and single-jab clinics, visit www.jabs.org.uk
E-mail Sarah at firstname.lastname@example.org