Legal aid victory for paralysed MMR boy

By JULIE WHELDON, Daily Mail 21:16pm 23rd July 2006

The family of a boy left paralysed after the MMR jab have won legal aid to sue the drug company behind the vaccine.

Shane Lambert developed transverse myelitis, an incurable disease of the spine, following the triple mumps, measles and rubella jab he had when he was 13 months.

His mother Sandra is convinced the jab is to blame for his condition and has been granted legal aid to sue the vaccine manufacturer Merck.

At the same time, another family has been given legal aid to sue over another jab made by GlaxoSmith-Kline.

Fadi Khawaja developed the same condition as Shane after having a combined measles and rubella jab, known as the MR vaccine, at the age of ten.

Campaigners welcomed the news that both families are being legally aided, saying it was vital in the 'David and Goliath' battle against global drug companies.

Shane, now 11, from Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, is paralysed below the waist and has to use a wheelchair or crutches. His 39-year-old mother said he was a healthy normal baby when he had the MMR jab.

"Within 28 days of having the jab he fell asleep and when he woke up he was paralysed from the waist down."

Fadi, now 22, from Motspur Park, Surrey, was ten when he had the MR jab, which was given to school-age children during a 1994 campaign. Now he can walk only short distances using crutches.

Parents of 1,300 children were initially awarded 15million legal aid to sue the MMR makers, Merck, Aventis Pasteur and Glaxo-SmithKline.

But the Legal Services commission controversially withdrew funding in 2003 for the group action saying it had no reasonable chance of success.

These two families have recently had their legal aid reinstated - however it is not clear at this stage how much they will be able to get and whether it will be enough to fund a lengthy battle through the courts.