For those who missed this story when it came out last month –
By Susan Brinkmann, For The Bulletin, Saturday, January 23, 2010
Two North Carolina women who met when their daughters both became sick after being vaccinated by the same lot of the controversial Gardasil vaccine, have launched a new Web site to help victims find information and support.
TruthAboutGardasil.org is the brainchild of Marian Green, 42, of Boone, North Carolina and Rosemary Mathis, 45, of nearby North Wilkesboro.
Unknown to one another at the time, both women decided two years ago to have their daughters vaccinated with Gardasil, a vaccine created by Merck & Co. which protects teens against several cancer-causing strains of the sexually transmitted human papillomavirus.
“Holly used to run six to 10 miles daily – she was at the top of her game,” said Mrs. Greene about her now 18-year-old daughter. “But within a few days of getting the Gardasil shot, she couldn’t walk and could hardly breathe.”
Rosemary’s now 14-year-old daughter, Lauren, received a vaccine from the same lot number. “Within 14 days, she started to become sick and is now completely disabled,” Mrs. Mathis said.
The two found themselves running from doctor to doctor looking for help. In Holly’s case, she was eventually diagnosed with pericarditis, an inflammation and swelling around the heart, which the doctor said was caused by the Gardasil shot.
Doctors at Duke University have determined that Lauren Mathis is suffering from a “vaccine injury” and say it will take her at least two years to recover from it.
“She’s coming around,” Mrs. Mathis said. “She was completely bedridden before and isn’t now.”
During those frantic two years spent searching for answers, Marian and Rosemary stumbled upon a Yahoo group for victims of the vaccine. It was here that they met each other along with hundreds of other mothers whose daughters became sick after receiving the Gardasil vaccine.
Eventually, they found another group for Garadasil victims on Facebook, where thousands more were looking for help.
“And these people were from all over the world, not just the USA,” Mrs. Green says.
Between the two of them, they have been in contact with parents from England, Spain, Germany, Holland and Australia, all with daughters who suffered serious injury or died after receiving either Gardasil or its European equivalent, GlaxoSmithKline’s Cervarix.
Ultimately, they decided it was time to start TruthAboutGardasil.org, which is designed to unite victims in their search for help and to get the drug removed from the market.
The site contains an information page with important facts about the vaccine as well as page after page of documentation on victims, including a memorial page telling the story of those who have died.
Another page lists “Guardian Angels,” women in dozens of states who have been through this experience and can be contacted for support and to guide others in their search for answers.
Philadelphia resident Jodi Speakman, 39, serves as the “Guardian Angel” for the state of Pennsylvania. Her daughter, Victoria, 18, became sick after receiving her second shot of Gardasil in Feb. 2008, and suffers from a litany of serious medical problems such as seizures, intermittent paralysis, memory loss, confusion, chronic fatigue.
“My daughter can never be left home alone. She can’t go to school, go out with her friends or work (and) has little ‘normalcy’ in her life,” Mrs. Speakman says, adding that they’ve had to increase the security in their home because Victoria often gets confused after a seizure and “goes missing.”
Victoria’s doctor has confirmed that her symptoms are directly related to Gardasil, “but not in a way that he can test or prove,” she said.
In the meantime, her family is left struggling with medical bills and searching for help. “I cry every day,” she admits.
She got involved in the new site because “There are so many girls out there with the same symptoms as my daughter, but they don’t make the connection with Gardasil. If we all come together to seek medical help for our daughters, we can raise awareness.”
Comments are already pouring into the new site. One woman says her granddaughter had her first Gardasil shot and “hasn’t been the same since.”
Another woman says her daughter came down with Hodgkins Lymphoma shortly after receiving a Gardasil shot and says, “I have located approximately 20 others with the same circumstance.”
As of the summer of 2009, there have been more than 15,000 thousand reported reactions to Gardasil, including more than 3,000 injuries and 48 deaths. Fourteen of the girls who died after getting Gardasil were under the age 16.
Even though the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) sent a warning letter to Merck’s West Point, Pennsylvania manufacturing plant where Gardasil is made, citing “significant deviations from current good manufacturing practice” they continue to stand behind the vaccine it fast-tracked into use in 2006.
Despite the fact that Merck’s lead researcher on both the Gardasil and Cervarix vaccine, Dr. Diane Harper, has publicly stated that the drugs will do little to reduce cervical cancer rates and were never adequately tested on children under age 15, Merck stands behind its product. With Gardasil profits ranging between $1.4 and $1.6 billion in 2008, they have repeatedly expressed confidence in its safety.
For more information, visit www.truthaboutgardasil.org.
Susan Brinkmann can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org