On Tuesday, April 29, 2014, Danny Alger, age 37, went to heaven. He was surrounded by his mother, Joyce, and father, Ed. Danny got to see God knowing that he was loved.
Danny Alger is one of the most important people our community has ever known.
In case 89-31V, Special Master Paul T. Baird ruled Danny “sustained an encephalopathy, the first symptoms of which appeared within three days of the second DPT vaccine that he received on March 27, 1977.” The injury left Danny with seizures and developmental delays.
And the vaccine injury also left Danny with autism.
Danny Alger was one of the first cases to be decided by a hearing in the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (NVICP). It was a tough hearing but Ed, Joyce and their Attorney, Cliff Shoemaker, proved their case and managed to get Danny Alger compensated for his injuries.
The Algers weren’t trying to prove that vaccines caused Danny’s autism. Autism was barely understood in the late 1980’s because it was so rare. The Algers needed resources to care for Danny and managing his seizures was a never ending struggle. Autism was just another issue and a rare behavioral diagnosis is not your primary concern when you are fighting to keep your child alive.
Eventually, the money from the settlement ran out. It was never really enough and there is no way to petition the NVICP for additional assistance. Ed and Joyce went about their lives, took care of Danny, raised their other children and like all of us, did their best.
No one from the NVICP ever contacted them again. It seemed Danny and his family were supposed to fade into the fringes of the American landscape. It seemed they were supposed to become invisible.
Danny Alger was one of the first cases where the federal government, grudgingly, compensated vaccine injury victims. Danny was one of the first of those cases that also featured autism. As the years passed, there would be many more. The government wanted those cases to be invisible too.
I found the Algers after reading through dozens of old NVICP case decisions while doing the research that ultimately resulted in the publication of Unanswered Questions from the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program: A Review of Compensated Cases of Vaccine-Induced Brain Injury, 28 Pace Envtl. L. Rev. 480 (2011). Ed and Joyce were the first people I called and it was one of the most remarkable conversations of my life. One of my sons with autism was making a racket while I was talking with Joyce and she just happened to mention that Danny used to make all sorts of noises because he also had autism.
Amazingly, Danny Alger was no longer invisible.
This phone call was just the beginning. By the end of the investigation, we found many other cases like Danny’s. It is now crystal clear – despite the government’s denials – that autism is often a result of vaccine injury induced brain injuries. Those running the cult of vaccine denialism can issue all the press releases they want. The fact is that autism is a common feature of vaccine injury in the cases that the NVICP has compensated. This is why Every Child By Two and the other pharma-funded organizations fought so hard to derail Congressional Hearings last November.
I’ve learned a lot about the NVICP from Ed and Joyce. But I learned more about life. They’ve taught me plenty about moving forward and loving and caring for your family, no matter what, come what may. These lessons were another one of Danny’s gifts, first to Ed and Joyce, then to me.
In May of 2011, Ed Alger stood in front of the US Court of Claims and spoke from the heart about Danny’s vaccine induced autism. He did this for his son and because he wanted what happened to him to serve a greater purpose. Danny had inspired his family to speak out.
Ed held up a photo of his son and showed it slowly to those in attendance. He said that he could “Our Danny Louis . . . was born a perfect baby. . . . He was a loving, bubbling, babbling, beautiful baby boy. And we only got to enjoy that for four months.”
Ed recounted that the same day that he was vaccinated, he let out “a terrible scream.” His son became inconsolable, constantly screaming and his body becoming stiff. Danny was having seizures. He stopped making eye contact and became hyperactive. “He enjoyed waving his hands in front of his face for no apparent reason.”
“Right now, as a result . . . from the initial shot, another injustice, Danny is also paralyzed on the right side. He’s confined to a hospital bed. He’s on every medicine you can imagine but he continues to seizure.”
“We believe vaccines are not always safe for everybody. . . . and we believe they can cause autism. Our son Daniel is proof.”Ed said that parents today are still being told vaccines don’t cause autism. “We proved them wrong then and I think we can prove them wrong now.” Ed asked Congress do something.
Danny and his parents have overcome those who seek to silence the truth about vaccine injury and autism. They have overcome the vast power and influence of an industry that has manipulated our government into forgetting who they are really supposed to serve. They have even overcome the massive public relations machine that just turned Autism Awareness Month into Vaccine Exoneration Month.
Because Danny inspired his parents to speak out, Americans are starting to listen. There are now many more families like the Algers - real people who are fighting for their kids and fighting for the truth. They are everywhere.
Danny Alger is no longer invisible. He is victorious.
Ed and Joyce have asked us to honor their son by continuing to speak out.
Louis Conte is the author of The Autism War: A Novel, from Skyhorse Publishing.