restricted access How Vaccines Changed Our Lives Forever
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How Vaccines Changed Our Lives Forever

Thirteen years ago our daughter had a severe adverse reaction to vaccination. Audra was ten months old in June 2003 when she received the second round of Hepatitis B (Hep B) and Diphtheria–Tetanus–Pertussis (DTaP) vaccines. Audra received her vaccines on a Wednesday and was totally paralyzed, with severe breathing difficulties, and on life support by Sunday.

In the process of trying to figure out what had happened, my husband, I, and the medical team dissected the prior month of her life. It was then that one of the neurologists asked, “Has she received any vaccinations within the last 30 days?” We both answered, “Yes, this past Wednesday.” That’s when we first realized that vaccines could even cause serious injuries. We already knew that live–virus vaccines could shed because our older children had gotten and then transmitted varicella (chickenpox) to Audra two months earlier.

The doctors spent some time arguing over what exactly was wrong with our baby and finally agreed she needed an MRI. The MRI showed them the extent of the damage done by the vaccines. Her immune system had been attacked, and the myelin (insulation) around her spinal cord was destroyed. The scans also revealed that Audra had pre–existing damage, which was attributed to a probable reaction to her first round of DTaP and Hep B vaccines.

Audra was diagnosed with transverse myelitis and acute demyelinating encephalomyelitis secondary to the Hep B and DTaP vaccine reactions. The CDC was notified, and on her first 4th of July, she was in surgery getting a tracheostomy. We spent four months in ICU and inpatient rehabilitation. Then we spent two more months in almost home Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU).

Audra had a tracheostomy and was ventilator– dependent for three years. Then she was strong enough to be weaned off the ventilator and eventually had the tracheostomy closed. We were not so lucky with the paralysis. To this day she remains paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair. Audra was left with neurogenic bladder that requires her to be catheterized three to four times a day. She has problems with her bowels, requiring her to take Miralax and at times be “helped” to have a bowel movement.

In the years since her first prolonged hospitalization, we have been in and out of the hospital. In 2012 the spinal surgeries began. Due to the paralysis, she developed dextroconvex scoliosis that puts pressure on her left lung and heart. She had to have VEPTR rods (titanium rods) placed in [End Page 156] her spine and ribcage that have to be grown and/or replaced every six months until she stops growing.

In all of this, I was left with more questions than answers. Were there symptoms that had been overlooked when Audra had her previous vaccines, damage that was detected on the MRI after her severe injuries? Did contracting chickenpox at eight months leave her more susceptible to a vaccine reaction at ten months? Did the fact that my older children contracted chickenpox from their vaccine indicate an underlying familial susceptibility to vaccines or the process of vaccination? I never got answers; we were just given a blanket medical exemption because doctors do not have clear answers at this point about risks and susceptibilities.

Audra’s ordeal is a confirmed and proven vaccine injury case. It was reported to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) and adjudicated in “Vaccine Court” (National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program). The federal court deemed that, without a doubt, vaccines had done this to her. You cannot sue the doctor or the pharmaceutical companies. The United States has a compensation fund set –aside just for this purpose, paid for through a tax on each vaccine. If this was an extremely rare phenomenon, why is the fund necessary?

The lawyer filed our Vaccine Court case in 2005. It took two years to get all the paperwork together. Parents are not seen, not spoken to, the court will only talk to our lawyer. The life care planner made an estimate of what may happen to Audra and what she may need based on her condition in 2005. The...