A Quivering Mass of Jello – The Omnibus Autism Proceeding – Second Set of Hearings (Thimerosal & Autism) – Day Five – May 16, 2008
By Kent Heckenlively, Esq.
The ideal of a good cross-examination is to reduce the witness to a quivering mass of Jello who can’t even tell you his own name. It rarely happens.
Sometimes you can shake their story or expertise enough to sow doubt in the court’s mind.
At other times you make a mistake by engaging in extended cross-examination because the witness gets another chance to tell his story. My opinion is that’s what happened in this day’s cross-examination of Dr. Mumper by the government attorneys.
Continued Cross-Examination of Dr. Mumper (Expert witness for the families)
There were some questions about Dr. Mumper’s testimony in a 2007 case and whether she had included information on neuro-inflammation. In that case the child suffered cardiac arrest and a seizure after his 18 month vaccination. The parents were told by their doctors that these conditions could not have been caused by the vaccination.
The child later died at the age of 18 years old from a seizure in his sleep.
Dr. Mumper has had discussions over the years with Dr. Zimmerman of Johns Hopkins about thimerosal-containing vaccines and their link to autism.
Dr. Mumper encouraged the parents of the child who had died to have his brain donated to the Autism Tissue Bank in Baltimore for Dr. Zimmerman to study. Although it is Dr. Mumper’s impression that Dr. Zimmerman does not agree with the vaccine-autism-neurological problems theory, she has not discussed the issue recently with Dr. Zimmerman.
The model of vaccine-autism causation proposed by Dr. Kinsbourne is one that Dr. Mumper believes explains a great deal about the condition.
Dr. Mumper is trained as a general pediatrician and has written a chapter in a book about developmental pediatrics.
In his review of the medical records for the two boys at issue here; William Mead and Jordan King, she found that their regression occurred between 15-20 months. She based this opinion on their medical records as well as parental reports.
Since William Mead underwent the standard vaccination protocol at the time he would have received 187.5 mcg by 7 months, an amount Dr. Mumper believes is enough to cause autism in some children. Dr. Mumper believes even “trace” amounts of thimerosal are suspect, as no safe level of mercury exposure has been established.
The type of reaction caused by mercury is neuron-inflammation, which differs from the type of acute reaction most physicians are trained to spot. The difficulty with mercury retention is that medical professionals must often rely on indirect markers.
Dr. Mumper agrees that no pre-provoked urine test was done on Jordan King, as suggested in the DAN protocol.
In reviewing the tests for William Mead, Dr. Mumper said the strongest piece of evidence was the excretion of large amounts of mercury following chelation. Additionally, in William Mead’s case he had dramatically low digestive enzymes. Mercury is known to inhibit the DTP4 enzyme, the enzyme which breaks down gluten and casein. This provides some understanding of why some children benefit from a gluten-casein free diet.
Dr. Mumper agreed that sometimes children recover without biomedical intervention. She had a role in choosing the test cases because she was looking for strong evidence of mercury excretion.
She is a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics, has served on a committee and is the medical director of the Autism Research Institute. She used to teach at the University of Virginia in the residency program. She currently has about 400-500 patients with autism and believes she has about 100-200 cases of clearly regressive autism.
Dr. Mumper believes there is an epidemic of neuro-developmental disorders, basing her belief on her own experience and numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and the Department of Education.
Although thimerosal was greatly reduced by 2003, at the same time the flu shot (of which 97% contain thimerosal) was recommended to pregnant women and infants starting at 6 months so that the thimerosal load still remains roughly half what it was in the 1990s.
Dr. Mumper understands that the link between autism and vaccines is not generally accepted in the medical community.
Redirect Examination of Dr. Mumper (Expert Witness for the Families)
In redirect attorney Thomas Powers brought up the Burbacher monkey studies performed at the University of Washington. This study makes it hard for her to agree with the 2004 Institute of Medicine report which concluded no further research was necessary on the link between autism and vaccines because the Burbacher study suggested that ethyl mercury used in vaccines is even more toxic to the brain than methyl mercury.
In questioning reactions to vaccines Dr. Mumper is extremely concerned about synergistic toxicities to the many chemicals in the shots. In going back to the case of her patient who later died at the age of 18 years old, he fit perfectly with Dr. Kinsbourne’s theory of neurological over-stimulation. He couldn’t stop stimming and seemed to be in a constant state of anxiety.
She understands she may be wrong about a link between vaccines and neurological problems, but believes good science is accumulating to show such a link.
In assessing what happened to the two boys at issue in this case, Dr. Mumper thought they key pieces of evidence were that both boys underwent to complete recommended vaccine schedule, there was no family history of autism, no siblings displayed developmental delays, and there were no other known causes of autism, such as usage of the drug, Tributalene.
Re-Cross Examination of Dr. Mumper (Expert Witness for the Families)
The government attorney elicitied from Dr. Mumper that as a pediatrician who has vaccinated children, she feels implicated in the epidemic and believes she has a debt to repay for the children she has harmed.
Concluding Thoughts on this Day of Testimony
It’s been noted by some observers of the trial that the government attorneys appear to be very young. They’d expected the government would’ve pulled out their own Jonnie Cochran or Jerry Spence. The problem is that attorneys of that caliber don’t stay long in government service.
The attorneys who do tend to go into government work tend to be young and idealistic, and once they get sufficient experience will move into the private sector where they’ll become even more disillusioned.
I can’t really see much that the government gained from its cross-examination of Dr. Mumper, and may also have done itself some damage.
Yes, there are some differences in opinion between medical professionals, even those who support the vaccine-autism theory. Nothing is unusual about that.
But in cross-examination the attorneys let Dr. Mumper go on about her patient who went into cardiac arrest, for Christ’s sake, after a vaccination and had a lifelong seizure disorder which caused his death!
Then they let Dr. Mumper go on about the amount of thimerosal these kids got injected into them by following the recommended vaccination schedule, how the mercury retention can affect digestion through the DTP4 enzyme, and that when chelated these kids excreted a lot of mercury and got better!
Dr. Mumper was again able to review the increase in numbers with support from the Centers for Disease Control and Department of Education.
This opened the door in redirect to talk about the Burbacher monkey studies which are so devastating. This study suggests the thimerosal in vaccines (ethyl mercury) is even more toxic to the brain than methyl mercury.
And hovering over all of this is the testimony of how much better these two boys got when they got rid of the mercury!
What was supposed to be the last, dramatic bit of cross-examination? Do you feel complicit in the autism epidemic as a pediatrician who administered vaccines and do you feel you have a debt to repay?
Dr. Mumper replied yes to both questions. How is that supposed to make her a bad witness?
It makes her sound like a grown-up.
Kent Heckenlively is Legal Editor for Age of Autism.