I must warn readers that the following video is very sad; you won’t be able to watch it to the end with dry eyes.
Age at death – <2 months
Cause of death – Whooping cough (pertussis)
Vaccination Status – Unknown; highly likely he was unvaccinated due to young age (first pertussis dose is administered at 2 months)
What happened – Landon Carter Dube was born on December 8th, 2009. He was three weeks early; weighed in at 6 lbs 6 ounces and was 18 ½ inches long. On January 15th he went in for his 6 week check up (he was actually 5 weeks and 3 days old). His parents had some concerns that Carter had been spitting up a little and seemed to be kind of cranky at night. The doctor suggested switching his formula and monitoring his crying in case it was colic. Tuesday, January 19th Carter was not himself, he was cranky and wasn’t happy unless he was being held. When his mother took his temperature, he was running a low-grade fever (100.1). His parents decided to take him to his pediatrician for a quick visit. I will let his mother tell you what happened next:
We saw a NP that day; she was immediately concerned with Carter’s breathing rate and thought he maybe a little dehydrated. The next thing I knew we were in an ambulance headed to Levine’s Children’s Hospital in Charlotte, NC. We were admitted to the 8th floor, Progressive Care Unit for observation. Doctors came in and asked a lot of questions over and over again, everyone had to wear a mask and a gown because they were unsure what was wrong with Carter. The doctors threw around RSV, pneumonia, upper respiratory infection, and the lastly Purtussis (whooping cough).
Over the next two days, Carter had to be put on nasal oxygen, he was taken for chest x-rays, suctioning out of his nose and lungs, and they even beat his back to loosen up his lungs. Nothing worked and only seemed to make him mad. They even placed an IV in his arm (covering the finger he sucked on) to supplement his lack of mild intake.
Friday, January 22nd Carter started coughing and lost his breath and turned blue. I totally panicked; if my husband would not have been there I don’t know what would have happened. I just froze in my steps.
Saturday, January 23rd Carter was sent to the 6th floor PICU, for better care and observation.
Early Sunday, January 24th the decision was made to put Carter on a respiratory. He had become fussy and inconsolable, which caused him to struggle even more to breath. That was the last time we saw our Carterbug awake, but we didn’t know that at the time.
Around noon on Tuesday, the doctors starting through around the idea of putting Carter on an ECMO (heart and lung bypass machine), but it would be the last resort. The percentage we were given was 60/40 that he would leave the hospital with us. We discussed our options with the doctor and made arrangements for Zach to come and see Carter before the procedure was done. Zach for only being 10 handled it very well and was a real trooper through it all. Carter went into surgery later that evening and we sat around with our wonderful family and friends and waited. It took about 3 hours for the procedure and we were told Carter came through it ok.
I was not prepared for what I saw when I walked back to his room. My sweet baby boy with these huge tubes in the side of his neck and watching his blood go in and out of them. The ECMO machine itself was huge and required two people to run it at all times. Now Carter had four people in his room, two full time nurses and two ECMO techs. Carter had started swelling and wasn’t putting out enough urine for the fluid he was taking in. The doctors told us it was related to the stress on his body for being so sick. Now we had to worry about kidney failure and other issues related to the swelling.
Wednesday January 27th, was a good day. Carter held his own all day and there were no sudden changes. It was the first day we relaxed a little and talked about a long term plan. They didn’t sugar coat it, we were still looking at a month or more in the hospital before we would take him home. When we went to bed Wednesday night it was the first time I didn’t feel like I was carrying the world on my shoulders.
That feeling lasted about seven hours; we got a call from one of the specialists around 7:00. Carter had a rough night and they had to give him fluid boluses to keep his pressure up, we need to come to his room soon.
It was hard to stand back and look at my sweet baby boy all swollen to twice his size. They had him under a heat lamp to keep him warm and two huge medicine trees holding all of the meds that were working to keep him alive. An lets not forget the machine that was monitoring his heart and blood pressure that was constantly alarming us that something wasn’t right. It was like a bad dream and we just couldn’t wake up. We had asked the doctors to always be honest and to let us know when it got to the point that they were doing things too Carter and not for him.
At 5:06, Thursday January 29th, Carter received his angel wings. He went peacefully on his own terms to the arms of Jesus. I truly believe that we will see him one day and that his spirit is with us everyday.
By January 19th, little Carter was simply cranky and restless, 10 days later he was gone. Heartbreaking; absolutely heartbreaking. Please, vaccinate your kids; get your booster shots, ask anyone that will be in constant contact with your newborn to take the booster shot.
I first read Aleshya’s, and her son’s Peyton, story at Dana McCaffery’s Facebook page. What happened to Peyton and Aleshya, highlights the importance not only of vaccinating children and adults, but also the importance of adult booster shots, disseminating the right information to parents, but even more importantly that doctors themselves need to be more aware and vigilant about this disease. Words cannot describe how important her questions and her plea for awareness and action are. I contacted Aleshya and asked for permission to share their, fortunately, happy-ending story here at Vaccine Central. She gracefully agreed and without further ado, here is what happened in Aleshya’s own words (emphasis and links were added by me).
Hi, My name is Aleshya . My son, Peyton, is a Pertussis survivor. At only 6 weeks-old he developed the disease Pertussis, also known as whooping-cough. This disease caused my son to suffer through severe coughing attacks, followed by the struggle to catch his breath, which caused him to turn purple due to low oxygen levels. During each attack, I listened to my son make these awful high-pitch noises, a sound that is typical of pertussis. As a new mother, the first sounds I expected to hear from my son were small coos and giggles, not the sound of him gasping for air. I worried with every cough: will he catch his breath? The only thing I could do is coach him through it, with a calm tone “please breathe Peyton, please breathe”, while watching him turn purple.
We are not sure how Peyton got the whooping-cough, but it could have been prevented had our family been made aware that adults, as well as children, need booster shots. Just one simple DTaP (Tdap for adults) shot could have possibly prevented Peyton, and our family, from going through this horrible experience.
Not only were we uneducated about pertussis, but it took three trips to the ER for the doctors to finally admit Peyton into the ICU at our local hospital. During one of trips to the ER, the doctor told us Peyton’s condition was caused by constipation so we were sent home. After receiving many wrong diagnoses, they finally ran a pertussis test on my son. The test took about 5 days to culture. My husband and I were told for five days, by many different doctors, that there was no way our son had pertussis, even though Peyton’s pediatrician suspected it. They were sure it was the flu. The pertussis test came back positive.
I was told that, because the hospital staff did not take proper precautions with Peyton’s “possible” pertussis, every one in every department that he came in contact with was required to take antibiotics, after the pertussis was confirmed.
Peyton was discharged from the hospital after 7 days on October 25th, 2009. At that time, he was only 2 weeks into his pertussis infection, which can last for several weeks, or even months. Each day he got a little bit better; his attacks were not as frequent as they were in the beginning, but still just as severe. More and more cases of pertussis appear each day, a disease that we once just about wiped out is now coming back. As a new mother, I thought all I have to do is keep him safe from the flu…….boy was I wrong. Not in my wildest dreams, did I think that my healthy son would have to battle with such a (in most infant cases) fatal disease, at only six weeks old.
Why isn’t there more awareness out there about pertussis? Why aren’t we encouraged more to follow up on our booster shots to prevent another pertussis outbreak, to protect more babies like Peyton, to save children’s lives? To all new parents, grandparents, aunts or uncles, please from the bottom of my heart, get your booster shots. It is that important, and since there is little awareness, help spread the word about pertussis. You may never know it, but it could save a baby’s life.
How is it that an anti-VAX family could become not only pro-VAX, but vaccination advocates? It happened because of one word. Evidence. We are both naturally minded parents (believing strongly in co-sleeping, breastfeeding, home births and baby-wearing) and evidence based parents. It’s not always easy but we try to always keep an open mind and allow our opinions to change as new and better research and evidence comes to light. Occasionally the two conflict but in the end, facts and evidence always win.
In 2005 we were pregnant with our first child. Another couple of months and we were going to have our very first, our very own little bundle of joy. A boy. We were so excited. Along with any other new parents to be, we wanted to be the best parents.
So our research started early. Of course one major topic to research was vaccines. What did we want to vaccinate against? How many shots should we give him?? How many were enough?? How many were too many!?! What were the side effects!!??! Side effects!!?!!!!? Arrrggghhh!!!!!
Our increasingly panicked questions were only answered with ever more frightening answers. Sickness. Hospitals. Side effects. Mercury. Toxins. Autism. It is enough to drive any parent mad. By the time our son was born it was decided. We were absolutely NOT vaccinating our little boy and exposing him to all those chemicals and possibly even autism. Maybe if someone actually did a proper study and found vaccines to be safe, we would reconsider. But without that, definitely not.
So, that’s where we left it. For about two years we never discussed the topic. But we found it was still bothering us at an increasing level. We were seeing our friends vaccinate their kids. Didn’t they know what they were doing? If vaccines were so horrible and toxic why were these people that we knew, cared about and respected harming their own children? Even worse, why was nothing being done about it? Why was nobody studying this?
So after over two years of this eating away at us we went back to researching. It just didn’t make sense that this was such a controversial subject, yet no one was studying it. So we Googled again. Found the same frightening information as before. Went on the CDC’s site again. Then we went one step further and started looking through some medical journals as well. There just had to be something in there. Some evidence.
Turns out there was. Lots of it. And not the evidence we were expecting to find. It turned out Dr. Mercola and Jenny McCarthy were not the experts on vaccines. It turns out there are hundreds, of doctors, scientists and medical professionals who have spent their lives studying and researching this stuff. Not just the viruses but also the vaccines, their effectiveness, their ingredients and their side effects. And these experts were not just from the pharmaceutical industry. In fact, most of the information I collected over the next year were independent studies. Yes, there were some from “Big Pharma”, but assuming a bias I simply ignored those. Yet there were many more from The World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control and many universities around the world.
What I started to notice was that the anti-VAX “movement” didn’t have any real evidence backing its reasoning. There were many sad stories (and many of them were truly heartbreaking) correlating autism and other diseases with vaccines. There were a lot of anecdotes. Yet no evidence. And I was looking for evidence. Facts.
So if autism and other similar disorders were being correlated to vaccines, then why? If autism rates were going up, why? If vaccines weren’t the cause then what was? Well it turned out the first two questions were the easy ones to answer.
The main reason autism was being correlated to vaccines had simply to do with a coincidence of timing. Autism usually starts to show right in the middle of the childhood vaccine schedule. Right around 18-24 months a previously healthy and alert child can seem to stop developing mentally. They may even start to forget how to do things they previously had learned. So you go to see your doctor and find out your child has been diagnosed with autism.
As a worried and concerned parent you would try to think of what could have done this to your happy healthy baby. Did they fall? Did they hit their head? Did they choke on anything recently? Then you remember. They did just get their vaccines a couple of months ago. Maybe that was it? And that is how it happens. Correlation. It is an easy answer for a scary and sad situation. A good scapegoat. Yet there is no evidence. Just bad timing.
So then why are more and more children being diagnosed with autism? Well, it turns out they are not. The US National Library of Medicine, CDC and World Health Organization classes “…autism as a ‘spectrum’ disorder.” that has grown to include many other neurological disorders. “Asperger syndrome is a milder version of the disorder.” So what is actually happening is that more diseases are being reported and classified as autism and therefore on paper it looks as though autism rates are rising. They are not. The definition of autism is just expanding.
So then what is causing autism? Well, that is a harder one to answer. The real answer is, we don’t know But according to the National institute of Nurological Disorders and Stroke, “Scientists aren’t certain about what causes ASD, but it’s likely that both genetics and environment play a role. Researchers have identified a number of genes associated with the disorder.”
There is a lot we don’t know about autism and its causes, and it is currently being studied. However thanks to many studies (www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/ autism/documents/vaccine_ studies.pdf) we know that there is no evidence showing any currently available vaccine contains any ingredient that causes ASD.
I also learned just how well our vaccines worked. According to the CDC, between 1953 and 1963 the United States recorded an average of 450 measles related deaths per year. Now thanks to vaccines that number is essentially zero. Before pneumococcal conjugate vaccine became available for children, pneumococcus caused 6,100 deaths per year in the U.S. Since the vaccine was introduced, the incidence of invasive pneumococcal disease in children has been reduced by 75%.In the 1920’s, diphtheria was a major cause of illness and death for children in the U.S. In 1921, a total of 206,000 cases and 15,520 deaths were reported. With vaccine development in 1923, new cases of diphtheria began to fall in the U.S., until in 2001 only two cases were reported. There are so many examples of just how well they work it’s mind-boggling.
And yes there are sometimes side effects, but let’s put some things into perspective. Let’s look at a few statistics. The odds of getting hit by lightning at some point in your life is 1:5000. The odds of being struck and killed by said lightning strike is 1:2million. The odds of being killed in a car accident is 1:6250. The odds that a woman will die in childbirth in North America is 1:4800. The odds of a child who has contracted the measles dying is 1:1000. The odds of having a long term severe reaction to the MMR vaccine…. about 1:1million.
The final kicker for me was learning how the modern day anti-VAX movement began. In the past it had been a largely religious movement. People of many different faiths didn’t believe people should be interfering with God’s work. This meant that it was (and still is for some people) literally against their religion to get things like vaccines, blood transfusions and even some surgeries. They didn’t argue that vaccines didn’t work. That is irrelevant. They just chose not to get them because if God decided it was you or your child’s time to be sick, blind, disfigured, sterile, crippled or dead, they were okay with that. It must be part of God’s plan.
Now let me tell you about a Canadian trained British physician named Andrew Wakefield. In 1998 he published a research study in the medical journal The Lancet. In his study he alleged a possible connection with the MMR vaccine and autism. His hypothesis was that the MMR vaccine caused a leaky gut which sent toxins into the blood stream then manifested itself into autism. This was the first time such an idea had been put forth and he got a lot of media coverage for it. In the years following the immunization rates in the UK decreased substantially.
In 2004, ten of the thirteen contributing authors had retracted the conclusion portion of this study and said, “We wish to make it clear that in this paper no causal link was established between MMR vaccine and autism as the data were insufficient. However, the possibility of such a link was raised and consequent events have had major implications for public health. In view of this, we consider now is the appropriate time that we should together formally retract the interpretation placed upon these findings in the paper, according to precedent.”
By March of 2004, the General Medical Council (GMC) launched a formal investigation into Andrew Wakefield and two of his former colleges. He is being charged by the GMC with suppressing and falsifying data. It has also come to light that he was being paid to conduct the study by solicitors representing parents who believed their children had been harmed by MMR. His trial is scheduled to begin on November 19, 2009. In the mean time he has been practicing medicine on autistic children in Texas studying a new disease which he calls ‘autistic enterocolitis.’ However he has put no evidence forth to prove this is a real disease and it is not recognized by the medical or scientific community.
So just to be clear, the person who first put forth the idea that vaccines are harmful and can cause autism was being paid by people who had an interest in a specific result. He is being accused of scientific misconduct and data fixing by the GMC and his former colleges for ensuring that result.
So when asked why we vaccinate we say, “Because the evidence shows they work. They control the spread of disease and stop mass pandemics from happening. Yes, they have side effects, but the side effects are less serious and happen less often than the disease they are vaccinating against.”
We are not saying anyone reading this should listen to us. Or do what we do. Or that our way is the right way. Every family needs to make their own decisions on what is best for their family. What I do hope is that every family will take in all the evidence before making their decisions. Talk it over with their physician. Then even after that decision is made keep reading on the topic. Check in every now and then to see if things have changed. Always keep an eye out for new, better and more reliable evidence. Our decisions were not made lightly, but we now have two boys on a full vaccination schedule. It was a long process but we now feel less fear and more confident in the health and well being of our family.
Some refrences and excellent sites to get started with research.
http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/ autism/documents/vaccine_ studies.pdf