DEATH: Family still blame vaccine for tragedy

25 January 2006

WHEN Sejal Madlani died at the age of 23 after a life fighting health
problems, her family still blamed a childhood vaccine.

Today, her mother Saroj (53) said her daughter had been a healthy baby
until she was given the whooping cough vaccination, along with the jabs for
tetanus and diphtheria.
Just hours later Sejal began showing symptoms of a condition that was to
leave her disabled for the rest of her life.

Saroj and husband Vinod (55) came to terms with their daughter's condition
many years ago and concentrated on making her life as happy as possible and
enjoying the years she was to have with them.

The couple recalled how their daughter brought them constant joy, despite
being unable to speak, walk, or even sit up by herself.

Saroj said: "She was a thriving toddler and she turned into a cabbage
almost overnight.

"When we found out the convulsions had left her brain damaged, we were
devastated. It took us nearly two years to realise that we still had that
beautiful little girl - she was just different to other children."

Saroj learned how to juggle her time as a carer for Sejal while holding
down a full-time job as postmistress at New England Post Office.

The family rarely did anything without the youngster, including holidays to
India and Disney World in Florida. Their last holiday was in August 2005
when they took Sejal to Disney Land in California.

When Sejal was three, she attended the former St George's School in
Peterborough, for special needs children, before attending Sense East in
Market Deeping, from the age of 19.

Because of her health, Sejal suffered from colds and illnesses during
winter. In December last year she came down with flu-like symptoms and had
to be rushed to Peterborough District Hospital on Christmas Day.

Over the next two weeks, she battled against a chest infection which
eventually brought on pneumonia.

She died on January 4 with her family at her bedside.

Saroj said: "Normally, my husband and other daughter Shital went home at
about 9pm, but they stayed later that day - it was like a sixth sense, we
knew something was going to happen.

"She passed away very peacefully. She looked at us, her face lit up and
then she closed her eyes."

Sejal's funeral was held at the Peterborough Crematorium on January 12.

At the service, her sister Shital (26) said in a moving personal tribute:
"Life is going to be empty without you.
"You have left us so many wonderful memories and you will never be forgotten."

Whooping cough link never proven

PUBLIC concern about the triple vaccine which gave babies protection
against whooping cough, diphtheria and tetanus grew internationally in the
1970s after side effects were reported in some cases.

Some critics blamed the whooping cough element in which the whole cell was
used, although this was never proven.

This widespread controversy led to a drop in babies taking the vaccine,
from 80 per cent in 1972 to just 35 per cent in 1975.

After this, two epidemics of whooping cough broke out in 1978 and 1982, the
results of which left some brain damaged or with lung complications.

Three years ago, a new, purer vaccine was developed, making it much less
likely to produce an allergic reaction.
25 January 2006