I’d thought that even if the case went against us that I’d be able to understand the court’s opinion. After all, we know how incredibly well-funded the pharmaceutical companies are and the positive research they can generate. It can be difficult for a person who does not live our lives to understand what we have witnessed, and the holocaust we see in this current generation of children.
But I must say that Special Master George Hastings will forever occupy a special place in history for those who lack intellectual curiosity.
In the decision he concedes there was a period of apparently normal development, notes that Michelle Cedillo has suffered from severe gastro-intestinal problems, and that her fever and rash were contemporaneous to and probably linked to her MMR shot. He also acknowledges that the amount of medical literature in this case was staggering.
I find it incompatible that at one place he can state there is probably not a reliable method for testing whether there is a persisting measles virus infection and the go onto say that the measles virus theory is so out of the realm of possibility that its promotion by physicians is tantamount to being misled. It’s one thing to claim that something cannot be reliably found with existing technology, but another to say that even if found, it wouldn’t be important. How can one know? Especially when in the next sentence he goes on to reference the case of an eleven-year-old contracting a herpes virus and becoming autistic. The person of merit is one who struggles to find an answer, not one who closes off all inquiry.
I also find his stance regarding thimerosal to be puzzling. While he acknowledges the dangers of mercury, and that in-vitro studies have found damage similar to that which was alleged by petitioners, he doesn’t think that rises to the level of even questioning whether something similar might be happening in human beings.
On the issue of the well-documented condition of acrodynia, caused by the mercury in teething powders used up until the 1950s, he also comes down unaccountably on the side of the government. The truth is that there is currently no answer to the question of whether those who suffered from it did so because they got a high amount of mercury, or whether they were unable to remove the mercury from their bodies. However, he comes down squarely on the side of it being because of the mercury dosage, rather than any difficulty their bodies have in excreting it.
Following along with Hastings’ complete lack of intellectual curiosity is how he explains the gastro-intestinal problems of Michelle Cedillo. Despite abundant evidence of poor digestive function, he seems uninterested in suggestive findings from endoscopy and viral examinations.
In his closing remarks he notes that the decision was not even close, and that the Cedillos have been misled by physicians who saw an opportunity to take advantage of a family who thought their child had been injured by a vaccine.
As much as those of who have children with autism and choose to help them are under great stress, I just viscerally respond to this attack against those physicians who are doing their best to help our children. They choose to enter this fight, knowing they will be attacked, but strengthened by the conviction they can help some of our children. To many of them, we owe our children’s future. And when they have not been able to find the answer, they continue to fight.
It is apparent to anybody who looks at this unfolding tragedy that the pharmaceutical companies have no interest in helping us, the medical universities and research facilities can offer us no help, and now we know we have no friends in the vaccine court.
I cannot recall a time when I have felt so disillusioned. My only hope is that there have been those people sitting on the sidelines, knowing we are right, but unwilling to offer their voice, or share what they might know. If such people do not come forward, it will continue to be a long road for us.
But have no doubt that we will continue this fight.
Kent Heckenlively is Legal Editor for Age of Autism.