Silenced Witnesses Vol. 2: The Parents’ Story: The Denial of Vaccine Damage by Government, Corporations and the Media
Written by the Parents, Edited by Martin J. Walker
290 pages, paperback, with index
Copyright Slingshot Publications
First published November 2009
Reviewed by Katherine Smith
“On the 17th May 1993 we received a card to attend for the MMR vaccination and after much thought we proceeded to have this done. On arrival at the Health Centre we were ushered into the waiting room. Jodie’s name was called and Pat carried Jodie in for the jab. It seemed like less than a minute when I heard a high pitched scream, which made my blood run cold. I realised the scream was from Jodie and rushed to the room just as Pat came out. Pat said that the syringe was already made up and the nurse was very rough. I looked at Jodie, pale and shivering and looking as if she was in shock and all the time screaming, a scream like I had never heard before.”
For Pat and Bill Marchant the day that they brought their daughter Jodie to the clinic to be vaccinated changed her life – and theirs – forever. Unknown to them at the time, Jodie had not only been injected with the MMR (with their written consent) but with two other vaccines – the DPT and polio vaccine, all drawn up into the one syringe – even though Pat and Bill had specifically refused permission (in writing) for the DPT should to be given.
The effects on Jodie, a baby who was “so loveable yet full of mischief” and whose first year of life had been “full of joy” was dramatic. Her speech disappeared and “her appearance became that of a zombie. She seemed oblivious to as if we did not exist.” She also continued to “scream in in agony”.
The local GP was of no help suggesting that if Jodie’s behaviour was difficult, her parents should shut her in her bedroom and let her “cry it out”.
In desperation Pat and Bill demanded that a health visitor be sent to visit them. By this time “Jodie was not eating, had lost speech and eye contact and was clearly in extreme pain. She was not sleeping and appeared to be lost in her own little world.” The health visitor agreed that there was something was clearly wrong with Jodie and arranged for further assessments. Eventually in 2007 an MRI (Jodie’s second; the first had apparently been normal) revealed a chiari malformation. Surgery followed to lift her brain and tonsils back into their original positions. This had positive effects: Jodie’s vomiting declined in frequency and her previously life-threatening convulsions also decreased in frequency and severity. She sleeps better and is more affectionate towards family members and occasionally says words such as “Mum”, “Dad” and “Hello”.
Since her parents began writing their chapter of Silenced Witnesses, they discovered that “Jodie has a mitochondrial disorder and this has made us aware of the real need to test children before vaccination”.
To date Pat and Bill have not been able to get justice for their daughter despite the fact that she was injected with the DPT against their express written consent – and by subterfuge – as the DPT, MMR and polio vaccines were mixed into the same syringe. They brought an assault charge against their doctor Allison Hill but this was unsuccessful. (A child protection officer had agreed that Jodie’s vaccination with the DPT against her parents’ written consent did constitute an assault but warned her parents that “politics would stop him from finishing the case.”)
A complaint to the General Medical Council (GMC) also got no results as even though the GMC agreed that what had occurred in Jodie’s case was “unprofessional” the doctor could not be blamed if the nurse who administered the vaccines acted incorrectly.
Despite these set backs, Pat and Bill have not given up: They conclude their chapter with the following words:
“We have no doubt that Jodie was left disabled by a combination of vaccines that has never been tested for safety. This illegal concoction was deliberately mixed in one syringe and it destroyed our daughter. We will never give up our fight to obtain justice for Jodie.”
Unfortunately Bill and Pat are not alone in having a child’s future destroyed. Another case in Silenced Witnesses is that of Josh Edwards whose mother, Heather contributed the chapter “Suffering in Silence”, about how her son Josh’s life was devastated by the MMR vaccine.
Josh, born December 13, 1992, was a “perfect baby” who had such a lovely affectionate nature everyone wanted to take him home with them”. By the time he was 11 moths old he spoke single words such as “Mamma”, “Dada”, “Ta”, “Gone”, “Juice” and “Bye”.
Josh reacted to his 13 month MMR vaccination with a high fever, five days of diarrhoea and then chronic constipation. By the age of 18 months he had lost all his speech. A year later he was assessed at a child development centre as his “odd” behaviour had raised suspicions of autism. He was later diagnosed as autistic.
When Josh was four years old, he had his second MMR vaccination. Heather writes:
“I suppose like many parents I had more or less accepted the assurances of the doctors that the onset of Josh’s problems was not related to the MMR vaccine, that the timing was a coincidence. So when the time came for the MMR booster…I took him.”
Josh’s reaction to his second MMR shot was to have diarrhoea for three days followed by a worsening of his constipation: soon he was only opening his bowels twice a month. His behaviour also deteriorated
Heather writes of her son’s post MMR symptoms:
“…surely this could not be a coincidence. For Josh to develop diarrhoea and regression once may be, but twice surely not. There was NO WAY Jodie [her new baby] was going to have the MMR.”
Josh began to lose the toilet training skills that Heather had helped him to learn and he became more obsessive. Over time, his constipation became so bad that his bowels filled with impacted faeces causing frequent vomiting and necessitating surgery to remove the impacted material. However despite these procedures (and laxatives, and so many enemas that he developed regular rectal bleeding requiring his mother to syringe local anaesthetic “into his bottom to relieve the pain that he was in”) by 2004 Josh had to have his sigmoid colon removed. This means that Josh – who still had no speech – now had to cope with a stoma and a bag for faeces. Fortunately he accepted these quite well, although you can imagine that this was not easy for his mother, who was responsible for his daily care.
In September 2004 however, it was obvious that this operation had not been successful in resolving Josh’s symptoms and it was decided to remove his entire colon. Heather gave staff written instructions to save the colon tissue and store it in the freezer for later testing. By this time, Josh’s case was one of the children whose cases were being prepared for court action against the manufacturers of the MMR vaccines used in Great Britain; the case was later abandoned when Legal Aid was withdrawn from all the claims. His colon tissue needed to be tested for the presence of measles viruses. If it could be shown that his colon tissue contained the vaccine strain of the measles virus, his case for compensation would be strengthened considerably.
When Josh was about to be discharged from hospital two weeks after his operation, Heather “began arranging for a courier to collect the [colon tissue] sample from the hospital. I told the hospital that a courier would be able to collect the sample the next day bring dry ice and a suitable container. To save the courier waiting around could they make sure the colon was within easy access of [in] the freezer? As I worked this out with the hospital I felt confident and reassured. You can imagine my shock when a few hours later I received a phone call to inform me that though the box had been found in the freezer it was empty. The box was also clearly labeled, ready for the courier with Dr Wakefield’s name, although who wrote this was a mystery.
“The immunologist was distraught and could not explain what had happened. The colon sample was later found at the other end of the lab on a workbench; it had by then deteriorated so badly that it was useless for research. The colon had not been logged in on the system and therefore did not need to be logged out. Whoever did this knew how important it was. We had lost an irreplaceable piece of evidence.”
To add insult to injury, the hospital then tried to cover up the fact that someone in their organisation – or who had access to their premises – had destroyed the tissue sample needed to help a desperately ill child to be compensated for his iatrogenic injuries.
Josh and his family struggle on. Unfortunately while removal of his entire colon stopped Josh’s constipation he still has other sever GI tract issues including inflammation, polyps, food intolerances and vomiting so severe that for the last three years he has been unable to eat food and his reliant on pharmaceutical nutrient solutions to stay alive. His behaviour has deteriorated. He used to be a “calm, placid and affectionate” child. Now he is very aggressive and doesn’t even like to be spoken to. He still cannot speak himself.
His mother writes:
“The only explanation I can imagine for Josh’s changed behaviour is hormones. Having said that perhaps his new behaviour is understandable in light of all the pain for GI issues, chronic refluxing, his inability to eat and being disturbed every night [when his mother changes his bag, which she has to do twice a night]. Whatever the cause, how do I communicate to Josh that hitting out and and slapping my face is unacceptable behaviour?
“When I read about parents who have killed themselves and their disabled child, I have no trouble at all imagining how someone got into that state of mind. I could not do that, however. Perhaps because I feel that the rest of my family needs me. But there is so little help and support offered to families like ours that I understand how people arrive at the point where they can no longer carry on.
“I no longer grieve for the ‘perfect’ child I should have because without his disability Josh would not be Josh. We all love him for who he is now and we know he loves us. I would not give Josh up for anything, but I wish I could spare him all the pain and suffering that he has to go through every day of his life. At those times when he is not frustrated or in pain, I hope he is happy but I don’t really know what it is like in his world because he cannot tell me. I know he is often scared, frightened and confused, and that makes my heart heavy.”
Josh’s case is an extreme example of the GI tract damage that some children develop following MMR vaccination – together with regressive autism. Other parents in the book contribute stories of their children’s serious physical illnesses, such as Deborah Heather, who son Andrew’s bowels regularly became so impacted that he could not hold down food or even fluids and vomited up bile.
The medication that Andrew has had to take for his bowel dysfunction also caused awful side effects:
“…we had to watch him quite closely because he had no controls of his motions, the diarrhoea would come through so quickly, if you turned away for a second there would be a trail behind him. He would be sitting watching his videos and it would just fall away from him, his smearing would cover the walls, his bedclothes, carpets and his bedroom door.”
Andrew (who is also autistic) cannot talk but has some understanding of speech and can communicate his needs by giving his parents pictures of what he wants. (His family use the Picture Exchange Communication System.)
Like other children whose stories are featured in this book, he has not received any compensation despite being part of a group in which the children’s cases were taken to the Royal Court of Justice and eventually the European Court of Human Rights.
All of the families who have contributed stories to this book have had their lives changed irrevocably by their children’s vaccine-induced injury. All have taken the time the contribute to this book in the hope that their child’s suffering will not be in vain and that other parents will be able prevent their children from similar fates.
In the case of Polly and Jon Tommey, their son Billy’s decline into autism following his MMR vaccine meant that they both changed their careers. Together in September 1999 they launched a magazine called The Autism File, a magazine that is now distributed worldwide with American and Spanish editions.
The magazine’s first issue included three letters about autism and vaccination; one about the DPT, MMR and autism and the other two about the MMR-autism connection.
As Polly writes:
“This was my first experience, as an editor, of what happens to you when you publicly speak out against the MMR vaccination. We received a couple of letters from anonymous writers warning us that we would not stay in print if we carried on publishing such dangerous claims.”
However, it did not put them off reporting the truth about their son’s condition. Issue 3 of The Autism File included the following:
“The biggest breakthrough we have found since my report in the last issue is that Billy has a high reading of antibodies to measles. Dr Singh found Billy to have a high antibody to measles reading of 6.3 in comparison to a read of 3.15 for the normal control reading….Why did this not show up in his earlier vital antibody test conducted here in London two months earlier where the result showed negative?” This could indicate an active measles infection. Dr Wakefield at the Royal Free [Hospital] found a number of children with autism with gut related disorders have a measles virus present in the dendritic cells of the colon…and so it goes on.”
This issue was met with some positive phone calls, a “few odd calls” including a GP “who told us that we were a danger to other families with autism and that he would be taking this further.”
Polly and Jon persisted, however:
“The issues went on; the stories about vaccine damage grew. I tried to keep a balanced view in the magazine , but too many were writing in with the same stories. We quickly recognised that ‘shouting too loud’ about Billy’s decline was going to get us nowhere; and fast too. None of the big autism organisations wanted to be associated with parents who were perceived as ‘hysterical’”.
The couple’s commitment to the truth of their son’s vaccine-induced autism has had its social costs:
‘”Every dinner party we get invited to, I check to see if any GPs are there. Jon and I have lost friends over these parties. It’s always the same old thing; the doctors say it’s a load of rubbish and we tell them the way it is. Jon is particularly good at this as he often blinds them with stuff they quite obviously know nothing about. They always finish with the same old patronising line about how Jon and I should ‘Get out more and try and accept that the MMR is safe’. We have also lost a few close friends through our refusal to back down on this.
“We’ve fallen out with family members, mainly on Jon’s side, as they are GPs who refuse to listen or even try to understand. This particularly hurts Jon who cannot understand why anyone who knew Billy before and saw what happened to him could believe ‘the media’ over what really happened.”
Polly and Jon recognise that they are fortunate compared to many other parents of autistic children. Feeling failed by the majority of the medical profession Jon decided to train in clinical nutrition so that he could help Billy and other children similarly affected. For Billy, the biological treatments that he has had (beginning with secretin infusions) have been beneficial. He can now speak (although not as well as a normal 12 year old) and is a “very happy boy with high functioning autism”.
“I hear of so many families with children like Billy that haven’t had such good results, many can’t afford treatment, many haven’t the energy or the time, few have support and so many are tired, tired of fighting the doctors, the legal system, the educational system, their families; everything is a constance battle to fight for your child’s rights. Parents feel guilty but they shouldn’t have to.
“Help should be free and readily available, but it’s not, and the real battle to get the Government and medical profession to act on behalf of vaccine damaged children rather than against them, has, I fear, only just begun.”
Silenced Witnesses (Volume 2) is not an easy book to read, drawing you in, as it does, into the world of grief, guilt, anger and exhausted struggle of parents whose children’s lives were forever changed for the worse by vaccines that their parents believed would protect their health. However the parents’ love for their children and their courage and perseverance in the face of their difficulties shine through.
The Silent Witnesses books can be ordered from the Slingshot publications site, http://www.slingshotpublications.com.Information about bulk orders and review copies can be obtained by using the message form on the Slingshot Publications site.
About the Editor
Martin J. Walker is the author of ten books. His first four books grew out of his work as an activist in the 1980s and are mainly about, policing, wrongful arrest and imprisonment. His fifth book, Dirty Medicine: Science, Big Business and the Assault on Natural Healthcare was a landmark book on the suppression of natural remedies and alternative health practitioners by agents of the regulatory agencies and corporations. He followed this with other books about the politics of medicine, including a book on the hidden illness ME/CFS and HRT: Licensed to Kill and Maim. He has also returned to the story of individuals and lobby groups, tracing their history since Dirty Medicine in two later books, Brave New World of Zero Risk and Cultural Dwarfs.
In 2005, Martin Walker began supporting parents whose children had been injured by the MMR vaccine. He attended almost every day of the three year General Medical Council (GMC) hearing that tried three doctors on a large number of trumped up charges – authors who initially reported in the Lancet on the relationship between MMR vaccination, bowel disease and regressive autism — and eventually struck Dr Wakefield and Professor Walker-Smith off the medical register. (For more information on this issue, read the review of Dr Wakefield’s book, below.)
The GMC hearings grew out of a Sunday Times article by freelance reporter Brian Deer. None of the parents of the children who had been treated by Professor Walker-Smith’s team had complained about their children’s treatment. All but one of the parents of the autistic children whose cases were reviewed in the Lancet paper were barred from giving testimony in the GMC hearings; they were in effect Silenced Witnesses. This travesty of justice motivated Martin Walker to propose that parents of vaccine-damaged children contribute the stories of their children’s decline into regressive autism following MMR vaccination to two books entitled Silenced Witnesses (Volumes 1 and 2). He edited the stories, wrote introductory chapters and published both books. Volume 2 is accompanied by a free DVD Selective Hearing: Brian Deer and the GMC, produced by Alan Golding and praised by Dan Olmsted an editor of the website www.ageofautism.com/ as “the single best video ever made about the autism epidemic.” Martin Walker’s writing on other aspects of the “Wakefield affair”, consisting of eight essays are also available on his site.
To find out more about Martin J. Walker’s work or to buy his books please visit http://www.slingshotpublications.com/
Editor’s note: If you enjoyed this book review you may also enjoy the articles on vaccination in The NZ Journal of Natural Medicine. The homepage for the Journal is www.naturalmedicine.net.nz