by Katie’s mom Mary
Nineteen years ago, my husband, Terry and I were blessed with the birth of our second child, Katie Marie. She was absolutely beautiful. Her complexion was olive, her eyes dark blue and her black hair was unusually thick, with gold frosted tips. We joked that Katie looked like she had just stepped out of a beauty salon! I remember the attending nurses at Katie’s birth also remarked how much Katie looked like her daddy. And it was true, she had the same shaped face and coloring as her dad.
We were thrilled with our new baby daughter! She was a healthy, contented newborn, who nursed well, and gained weight according to schedule. She was indeed, the perfect baby!
Our son, Peter was 20 months old, at the time his sister was born. He adapted well to his new sibling. Life was good. We knew that we were so fortunate to have two wonderful children.
I took Katie to her well baby check up at two months of age. Since her older brother was fully vaccinated and healthy, I was anxious that Katie, too, be vaccinated. I was certainly aware of the benefits of vaccination. I believed that vaccination was a totally safe and effective procedure. I had no idea that childhood vaccines could harm babies. Naively, I believed that vaccines were thoroughly tested and would not be allowed on the market if they were not completely safe.
I had never been given information regarding the risks and side effects of vaccination by my family doctor. Therefore, I did not make an informed decision in choosing whether or not to vaccinate my children. In fact, I was never informed that I had a choice in choosing to vaccinate or not. The doctor did not ask about my family medical history to find out if my children were high risk for an adverse reaction.
Katie received the DPT-Polio vaccination in August 1983. Within 48 hours I noticed that she fell into a very deep sleep. I was not alarmed as it was a very hot, humid summer. Since we did not have air conditioning in our home, I thought that perhaps the heat was affecting her and that was the reason that she slept so much. Katie would wake up to nurse, but her sucking was weaker and she nursed for a shorter period of time before falling into a deep sleep again.
Approximately 2-1/2 weeks following her first vaccination, Katie developed a very high fever. I took her to our family doctor right away. The blood and urine tests that he ordered were normal and her chest was clear. The doctor stated he did not know what was causing the fever, but wrote a prescription for an antibiotic.
Three days after her doctor’s appointment I went to get Katie up from her afternoon nap. I was horrified to note that her left side was completely paralyzed. The left side of her face and her left eye drooped. Katie was admitted to Children’s Hospital. The emergency doctors queried whether Katie had suffered a stroke or Western Equine Encephalitis.
After five days of extensive testing, including brain scan, EEG, spinal tap, numerous x-rays, Katie was discharged from Children’s Hospital with an unknown diagnosis.
I did physiotherapy with her four times throughout the day and once a week brought her to Children’s Hospital to meet with the physiotherapist. Gradually Katie began to improve. She could move her little fingers and bend her left arm to her elbow.
We were so pleased with her progress. The pediatrician who took over Katie’s care after she was hospitalized suggested that I bring Katie back to our family physician for her four month DPT-Polio vaccination. No mention was ever made that Katie’s paralysis was related to her vaccination. I now know that Katie experienced a classic reaction to the oral polio vaccine. The time frame to contract polio from the vaccine is fourteen to twenty-one days. Katie fit the profile. Our baby contracted polio from the vaccine, which is a live, attenuated vaccine. She NEVER should have received the second vaccination.
However, in my ignorance. I handed over my beautiful baby to receive her second dose of the DPT-Polio vaccine. It was like handing over “the lamb to the slaughter.”
Katie, once again slept an unusual amount of time. In the medical literature this is referred to as, “excessive somnolence.” It is listed in the pharmaceutical product insert as an adverse reaction to the vaccine as it is a sign of encephalitis. Also listed is fever, which Katie also experienced.
Following her second vaccination, once again she did not nurse as vigorously. She failed to gain weight.
About 2 weeks following her vaccination, Katie woke in the middle of the night and screamed for hours. I could not console her. Her scream was high pitched and she sounded like she was in extreme pain. The product insert refers to it as ” the encephalitic scream,” caused by swelling of the brain. Screaming episodes and persistent crying are also listed in the product insert as an adverse reaction and contra-indication for further vaccination. My mother and sister were visiting from Toronto at the time and my mother who has raised five children said that she had never heard a baby scream in that way before.
The next morning Terry, Katie and I were in the doctor’s office recounting the nightmare of the night before. The doctor suggested that perhaps Katie was teething! It was at that point that Terry and I informed the doctor that we wanted to have Katie seen by specialists at Sick Children’s Hospital in Toronto. An appointment was made for Katie to travel to Toronto in one month’s time.
Katie never did make it to Toronto. She died that night.
Following the doctor’s appointment, we brought her home. She appeared to have recovered from the night before. She was happy and playing with a toy that we had just bought for her to strengthen her left arm. She was still wearing her pink dress. I remember her laying on the floor with her brother, her daddy, her grandma and her Auntie all watching adoringly as she pulled the little string down and a clown face popped up. We were all laughing at how clever she was, and Katie joined in our laughter. She was so proud of herself!
That night, before we went to bed, we checked on Katie. I will never forget her face. There was a golden glow surrounding her head, it made me think of a harvest moon. The bedroom was dark, we had not turned on the light, but this incredible golden glow surrounded her face. I believe we were witnessing Katie’s spirit leaving her body. I began to do CPR on my infant daughter while Terry phoned for an ambulance.
Katie was declared dead on arrival to Children’s Hospital. The doctors continued to work on Katie without reviving her. Our beautiful baby was declared dead on November 8, 1983.
I can’t begin to describe the pain we experienced over losing our daughter. All of our dreams and hopes for her died that day. We were denied watching her develop into a young woman and develop her gifts. Our son Peter was denied the enjoyment of growing up with his little sister and our future children, Natalie and Michael, missed out on the opportunity to have a big sister to play with and confide in. We will never know what contributions Katie would have made to this world. To say we were devastated does not do justice to our feelings. I have little memory of the two years following Katie’s death. I existed, I cared for my two year old son, but my grief was so great, and I was so totally enveloped in it. It was all encompassing. I carried a deep physical pain and heaviness around my heart for years.
After Katie died, we agreed to an autopsy, as we desperately wanted answers. We did not receive the results until eight months later. We were informed that Katie had died from a virus, but the pathologist was unable to identify what type of virus. So basically we were left in the dark.
Fourteen months following Katie’s death, Terry and I were on our way to bed, when I said to him, “I want to see what is on The Journal”, an investigative show that followed the CBC news. I was transfixed to the television as I heard Edda West debating Dr. Ronald Gold from Sick Children’s Hospital in Toronto, regarding the serious adverse reactions and deaths that can occur following childhood vaccinations. Edda’s daughter had experienced a serious reaction to her MMR vaccination. It was obvious that Edda had done in depth research on the vaccination issue. Suddenly I knew in a way that I have never known anything before what had caused Katie’s death. It was her childhood vaccination.
I got in touch with Edda the next day and we spoke on the phone for a long time. She was wonderful, supportive and patient. She sent me a thick manila envelope full of information regarding the harmful and lethal effects of childhood vaccines.
I will always be so grateful to Edda, for this life saving information as I was now pregnant with my third baby and would have had Natalie vaccinated, as we still did not know what had caused Katie’s death.
I approached all the doctors, the family doctor, the neurologist, the pediatrician and the pathologist, who Katie had seen, with this new information. Their reaction was very curious and surprising. When I mentioned the possibility of Katie’s death being due to her vaccination, not one of the doctors would look me in the eye. They told me that there was absolutely no connection between Katie’s death and her vaccination. Not one of them said let’s review Katie’s records to see when her high fever, loss of weight and paralysis began. I was urged not to think about it any more and to concentrate on my pregnancy.
In the nineteen years since Katie’s death, two of the four vaccines that she received have been removed from the market because of safety concerns. The Sabin oral polio vaccine is no longer used in Canada, because it is well recognized in the medical literature that oral polio vaccine caused paralysis and death in recipients. Curiously, there was no fanfare when oral polio vaccine was discontinued. It was very quietly removed from the market. No mention was made of the countless children who died or who developed paralysis from this tainted vaccine.
Katie received the whole cell pertussis vaccine, which also was withdrawn from the market in Canada, in favour of the Japanese acellular pertussis. Since the 1930’s when whole cell pertussis was licensed, it was well documented that it could cause permanent seizure disorders, encephalopathy resulting in permanent brain damage and death in some children. Statistics for adverse reactions were never kept, and still aren’t so we will never know how many infants have died as a result of childhood vaccines.
These babies’ deaths were swept under the carpet, as if they never existed, as if these wee babies were never loved and provided so much joy to their families. Their lives were expendable for the so-called ‘greater good’ of others.
In nineteen years, the truth about the cause of Katie’s death as due to her vaccination has still never been recognized by the medical profession. Despite the fact that Katie exhibited a classic reaction to the oral polio vaccine, with fever, high pitched screaming, paralysis and death, all listed in the product insert and on the Report of a Vaccine-Associated Adverse Event Form from Health Canada, her death has never been recorded or listed as due to the oral polio vaccine.
So even in death, she has not been granted the dignity of the truth of how she died. As Katie’s mother and her advocate, I will continue to fight for her truth and the truth of countless other babies who have been sacrificed for an immunization program that refuses to look at the mounting casualties from the war on microbes.