Grasping at straws to blame vaccines for an infant’s death

I will never, ever be happy that a child dies. You will never hear me say that they are in a “better place” or that there is some grander plan behind said death. And I can only imagine how tough it must be for a parent to lose a child.

What really grinds my gears is when a parent who loses a child goes to great lengths to blame vaccines. It’s one thing to grieve and want to blame something, but it’s another to waste money and resources in order to blame vaccines. This is the story of such a story:

“Rachel French did what most parents do: she took her baby to the doctor to get vaccinated. She was unaware of the associated risks that come along with these drugs and learned the hard way. She lost her adorable son less than three days after he was given eight routine vaccines.”

Of course, anything that happens after vaccination is directly a result of the vaccination, no matter what. At least that’s how anti-vaccine nuts operate in Crosby’s Labyrinth. The story gets really weird further down, but look at this part first:

“Her son’s autopsy report stated he died from asphyxiation from an undetermined cause. There was nothing obstructing his airways, nor did he have any physical signs of trauma at the time of his death.

The medical examiner and detective handling the case did not provide a good enough explanation for Rachel to understand what had happened to her baby. This led Rachel on her own journey to find out the truth. Rachel was told by the doctors that the vaccines had nothing to do with what had happened.

Years later, her lost son came through to her in a dream and eventually helped her uncover the truth. Her own investigation involving a child death investigator and pathologists proved the vaccines were responsible. This is their family’s harrowing story.”

Again, losing a child is horrible, so I’m sure that “Rachel” wanted some evidence that something else, like vaccines, killed her child. It’s not that she was anti-vaccine, per se. After all, the child was vaccinated. But everything just goes flying off the rails after that dream she had:

“It wasn’t until more than a few years after Danny passed, that I had a weird dream of my son. He came to me in my dream and it is the only dream I know of him being in.

He was just sitting in his bouncy seat and a man’s voice said, “It was the ‘site-o-kin’ storm that killed me.”

I decided to Google the term and found the term cytokine storm.”

And this is where I call bullshit. Our dreams are these very impressive constructs of fantasy and reality created by our brains in order to help us file away memories in a proper manner. Dream help us sort things out that are in our heads bothering us. Without dreams, we’d go crazy in a most literal sense. This statement by Rachel tells us all we need to know. She had more than likely looked up “cytokine storm” in relation to her son’s death, or she read about the cytokine storm somewhere and associated it with her son’s death. In either case, the dream tells us that her brain was in the process of filing the information away. However, because the death of her child was so meaningful, her brain instead associated the two things, leading her to hire “experts” who must have taken her for a chump:

“Danny had blood samples taken when he was twelve months old. On the day of Danny’s well-baby visit two months later, just before he passed, the day he was given that last set of shots, they had to take his blood again because of a previous lab mix-up.

I wasn’t comfortable with the way things were going so I had requested that the samples be sent to a facility for storing.

I had kept a locket of Danny’s hair after he had passed away, some slides requested after his autopsy, and decided to send some teeth and bone fragments from his ashes to the pathologist, along with the stored blood samples I had requested be saved. I then made arrangements to have the evidence reviewed.

Everything was reviewed by three separate pathologists. All three confirmed the same findings. The pathologists stated vaccine-induced hypercytokinemia as the cause of my son’s asphyxiation.”

First, routine blood samples are kept for no more than a week after they are collected. So we’re expected to believe that they were kept for years after his death. Next, based on this likely inexistent blood, some slides, and some bone fragments, these “experts” came up with “vaccine-induced hypercytokinemia”?

I’ll give you one guess and one guess only as to who uses that term? Yep, anti-vaccine nuts.

What’s more puzzling? This:

“They were able to determine this in large part to the blood panel taken prior to Danny receiving his vaccines, in contrast with the samples I had stored.”

So the blood that was mixed up at the lab at twelve months, and the blood that was likely not available after, all helped in determining this? I repeat, Rachel states that blood was drawn at twelve months but re-drawn because of a mix-up. The re-draw she states was stored in a facility, which explains the availability of the blood. But how did she find the mixed-up blood drawn at twelve months?

The whole thing has more questions than answers.

According to Google, the child died on July 4, 2008. There was one record that matches his in VAERS (ID 573366-1). I don’t know if it is his or not, but it bares many similarities to the story on the above mentioned anti-vaccine blog. There is no information on the investigation, and there likely won’t be. VAERS doesn’t work like that.

So how did Rachel even start wondering if vaccines caused her child’s death? A friend lost a child, too:

“A friend I had met before learning the truth about what happened to Danny went through something similar with her baby. The coroner called her and said her baby’s death was a SIDS case related to the DTaP vaccine he received at two months of age.

She called the next day, got a new medical examiner who said the other medical examiner was gone, she waited eight months for the autopsy report that was filled out by a different person and it stated accidental suffocation or something along those lines.”

Once that little seed of doubt got planted, it was only a matter of time until Rachel went looking for an answer, like a hammer looking for a nail.

The rest of the blog post is the usual dreck of anti-vaccine nuttery. In their pea brains, there is a cover-up and SIDS deaths are deaths from vaccines, accidental asphyxiations are deaths from vaccines, package inserts are confessions from pharmaceuticals about the evils of vaccines, and so on and so forth. You know the drill.

All in all, I really feel bad for Rachel. Here is a mother who lost her child and apparently wanted answers. When the answers were not enough, and when someone planted the idea that it was the vaccines, it seems that Rachel went looking for definitive proof of vaccines doing something to her child. And it seems that “experts” with some sort of anti-vaccine agenda took her for a ride and sold her the idea of “vaccine-induced cytokine storm.”

We do wonder who these “pathologists” are that confirmed this diagnosis. Are they board-certified, and, if so, does the medical board of the state where they practice know of these shenanigans?

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28 thoughts on “Grasping at straws to blame vaccines for an infant’s death

  1. Ms. French I am so truly sorry for the loss of your baby. Nothing rips a hole in a parent’s heart more than losing a child. That said, I would say that omissions in your story are the least of your problems. You have found yourself in the vilest of company to advance this revisionist history of yours. There is no pathologist nor any reports that support what you are claiming; you would have produced them by now in light of sharing every document and gruesome detail thus far.

    You are disgracing the memory of your son and your other children, turning his tragic death into an internet circus sideshow for whatever reason you have. If you can’t even manage to convince an incompetent, vile anti-vaxx nutter like Lowell Hubbs then you have quite a credibility problem and you would serve your son’s memory and your family much better by telling the truth. Using a story of vaccine injury to deflect attention is really contemptible and you should be ashamed of yourself.

    • I need to make a correction. It wasn’t Lowell Hubbs who questioned Ms. French’s story but rather others. I should have known a notorious dunderhead like Hubbs doesn’t posses the nads nor the brains to do such a thing.

  2. Pingback: No, vaccines almost certainly did not kill Elijah Daniel French | I World New

  3. Son of a bitch I wrote a long ass thing that was deleted, but that is fine because it gave me a chance to read all of the comments.

    I will first say this …I requested to rewrite much of this article early on because I felt it was very disjointed and weird….also I didn’t feel as if I were being properly represented. The article became even more disjointed because I insisted she remove certain parts which involved unresolved legal issues regarding mishandling of my sons body, falsifying documents, negligence, and organ theft. I am not comfortable mentioning these things in print until they are resolved legally.

    Another omitted part was the babysitter and her boyfriend. I suppose as it provided an alternative it wasn’t ideal to add

    • I had stored what samples I could because I suspected the babysitter boyfriend for several years as I continued vaccinating my kids.

      And I never said anything about brownish pink fluid. I was asked, replied that he did have something coming out of his mouth I had not noticed but my daughter said it was yellowish and I was able to tell that as it was on his clothing and the blanket.

      • I’m not going into alit of details regarding the pathologists…only one was hired by me, the others through certain agencies anD I do not have those two reports. I have not been public with this because it sucks. I only went public because people were screaming for blood, talking about prison and losing parental rights and I got scared. only later did I hook up with an immunology researcher who has Stated several tines that she believes testing Would reveal a genetic condition that would qualif. All of us as medically exempt. Had I known this I would have stayed in my happy little bubble .

        • And I am not against vaccines as I have no interest in seeing any children die. I think we should do immunoligical testing prior to vaccinating to better understand individual risks and to personalize schedules as needed

          • It seems to me like you’re being used by “vactruth”. Can you give us your version of events? Can you tell us the name of the pathologists who told you it was a “cytokine storm”? Please feel free to comment as much as you want to clear up your story.

        • And my friend? her son died in 2002….before Danny. But I have only met her in this past year

    • The fallacy in your logic rests in the omitted details….things I left out to protect people who had been cleared….like the babysitter who was watching him that day and her boyfriend, the last person to see Danny alive for sure. I never once thought it was vaccines ….I thought this. Man did it….especially when, 48 hours later he suddenly moved to Atlanta. I blamed this man even after I received my pathologist report because I didn’t believe it could be vaccines. By the time I received word on the other two I was a bit more accepting. There is more shit I won’t tell you but don’t twist me with some conspiracy nut fruit loop. Thus fucking sucks and has zero benefit in my life.

      • I’m sorry for your experience in all this. I appreciate the additional details that were left out by the author of the VacTruth post. It’s a shame that your story is being twisted in such a manner.

  4. Pingback: No, vaccines almost certainly did not kill Elijah Daniel French – Respectful Insolence

  5. I bet one of the pathologists who confirmed the death was due to vaccines was Mohammed Al-Bayati the vet pathologist who AIDS Denialist Christine Maggiore used to “prove” her daughter died of anaphylactic shock rather than HIV.

    • Al-Bayati isn’t even a vet pathologist. He is a toxicologist and is no more qualified to review autopsy reports than some random person in the street.

  6. You know, in one way, vaccines are indeed related to the death of a child.
    You know, you died because you lived long enough to die of something else.

    Yeah, bass ackward thinking, but it matches an antivaxer’s thinking.

    Now, cytokine storms are indeed real. Influenza can trigger them. Other infections can trigger them.
    They’re also about as common as hen’s teeth.
    Obligatory Wikipedia link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cytokine_storm
    To steal the symptoms line, as it’s telling: “The primary symptoms of a cytokine storm are high fever, swelling and redness, extreme fatigue and nausea. In some cases the immune reaction may be fatal.”

    No mention of high fever, edema, well, any symptom of a cytokine storm.

    Crud, I just noticed that’s uncited. I’ll have to fix that later today.

  7. I always feel like a ghoul when I dissect one of these stories, but I strongly feel that it is important to do so because it’s really horror stories like these that are at the heart of the antivaccine movement, and no amount of science is ever going to overcome the primal fear a parent experiences when reading a story like this and wondering if it could happen to their child.

    The first thing that jumped out at me was that she describes in detail how she laid him “down on the floor, on a comforter in the living room, near the wall,” but omits the most important piece of information: what position was he in? Given how widely known it is that sleeping on soft materials (like a comforter) in a prone position is a risk factor for accidental suffocation (as well as SIDS, but apparently this child was out of the age range), it seems really unlikely that this omission was unintentional. They even seem to be aware of how suspicious this looks, because they make a point of repeating several times that the baby couldn’t have suffocated because his airways weren’t obstructed. But that doesn’t necessarily rule out suffocation: according to the rebreathing theory a baby sleeping face down or even on its side can suffocate if the bedding forms an air pocket that holds exhaled carbon dioxide close to its face – the child’s nose and mouth don’t have to be physically obstructed.

    Towards the end of the story she mentioned that the baby “brownish to pinkish coloured mucous coming from his mouth when he died.” So I looked up possible causes and, what do you know, turns out oronasal bleeding is a sign of suffocation (apparently this is one way suffocation can be differentiated from SIDS in cases where the baby is younger.)

    But the main thing that struck me is that even though she puts up a screenshot of her son’s vaccination record and the medical examiner’s report, she doesn’t let us see the lab results that supposedly found elevated cytokines in his blood. Not only does she not put up the reports themselves, she doesn’t even relate the cytokine levels (in spite of the fact that she does tell us the exact acetaminophen levels the medical examiner found.) You’d best trust and believe that if I had objective, scientific evidence that my child’s cause of death was different from the medical examiner’s report, I’d publish the lab results as a full-page ad in the Times if I had to. The fact that she refuses to share the linchpin of her entire story makes me suspect that either these lab reports don’t exist, or there’s something sketchy about them – maybe these antivax pathologists didn’t find elevated cytokines but instead fed this poor mother a line about how they could tell there was a cytokine storm going on based on some bogus “pattern of biomarkers” or something. A lot of alt-med pseudodiseases seem to be diagnosed this way: they often have some “special” test that tells them if you have the disease (and you always, always have whatever they’re selling a cure for.) This seems all the more likely because, if I’m understanding her correctly, the pathologists didn’t have the actual blood samples from before the baby’s vaccinations (the ones taken at 12 months,) she says that they compared the results they obtained from the blood saved 14-month well visit with the results of the “blood panel” performed at his 12 month visit. I don’t know what goes in a typical “blood panel,” but it seems unlikely that they were looking for evidence of a cytokine storm. Are there any doctors out there who can comment on what such a panel would consist of, and if the results could be used to diagnose elevated cytokine levels?

    • I addressed your questions in part on vactruth. The tylenol thing was all her doing. I only mentioned it’s relevance in placing time ofdeath…te acetaminophen levels indicated he died 15-45 minutes afte. Receiving the dose. Hecwas given tylenol at two, went to sleep at 230 and I got home just before three….2:5?
      I don’t know anythjng about the tylenol thing she mentions

      • It was just s standard blood test…I can pull it out later but I think it included iron, leukocytes, …I’m not really sure. I’ll find it. I’m exhausted …I have an insomniac who’s almost three sbd she drives me to exhaustion sometimes

        • As a father of two, grandfather of three and friend of dozens of parents, what you describe there is…
          Being three years old.
          The exhaustion is called being a mom.
          But, it does get better.

      • I saw that you replied to my questions on Disqus this morning, so as soon as I got back from classes/lab today I spent 3 hours composing an absurdly long reply (yeah, I’m kinda a slow typist), only to find VacTruth took the story down after all^^* So I’m just going to copy/past it here in hopes that you’ll see it:

        Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions below – since there were several replies I wanted to respond to I’m consolidating all of my comments here. I’m sorry that your story has been appropriated and twisted to suit someone else’s ideological agenda – unfortunately this is something the antivax movement is well known for. VacTruth should certainly take the post down at your request, but I’m sure you realize that nothing on the internet just “goes away.” If you want some unsolicited advice from a complete stranger (doesn’t everybody?) it seems like it would be better to just set the record straight once and for all by publishing the complete and unaltered story yourself. But be aware people are not necessarily going to believe it without evidence – honestly, you can’t reasonably expect them to. But at least it will be your story and not an ideologically slanted second-hand account.

        I’m also sorry that you feel overwhelmed by the attention your story has received – I can’t even begin to imagine what it must feel like to read the story of your child’s death being hashed and re-hashed in the blogosphere. Contra antivax propaganda, people who work in vaccine-related fields take possible vaccine injuries very seriously, so of course a story like yours is going to generate a lot of questions (I should probably clarify that I am not one of these people – yet. At present I’m just a PhD immunology student interested in vaccine development – so needless to say I’ve been following the “vaccine wars” very closely.) And of course parents are always going feel strongly about anything that could potentially harm their kids, whether it’s alleged vaccine injuries or outbreaks of vaccine preventable diseases.

        All that being said, I have to be honest with you – nothing in either the version of the story VacTruth published or the corrections you’ve made so far suggests that vaccines were responsible for your son’s death. Of course, I don’t have the complete autopsy report, and even if I did, I’m not a doctor. That’s why the doctor who performed the autopsy is far and away the most qualified person to determine the cause of death, and his determination was compression or positional asphyxia. It would take some very strong evidence to justify second-guessing the medical examiner, and so far there isn’t any.

        Firstly, cytokine storms are fast: in the infamous TGN1412 phase 1 clinical trial, in which the subjects experienced cytokine storms after receiving investigational monoclonal antibodies, onset of severe symptoms was within 90 min, and the response peaked after 24 hours. Of course, these were healthy young men, not infants: I couldn’t find any reports in the scientific literature of an infant experiencing a cytokine storm after the administration of a drug or vaccine (probably because, again contra antivax propaganda, drugs and [especially] vaccines are extensively tested for safety in adults before they’re even considered for use in children.) The most source most relevant to your situation that I’ve found describes the autopsy findings of a 2-year-old who died of cytokine-induced encephalopathy caused by influenza infection (It’s not a free text so I can’t link directly to it; you might be able to access it via a university library if you live close to one: the title is “An Unusual Autopsy Case of Cytokine Storm–Derived Influenza–Associated Encephalopathy Without Typical Histopathological Findings.” If you want it and can’t get it let me know and I’ll find a way to get it to you.) I’ll spare you the details: the main points are rapid onset (death within less than a day of developing fever) and signs of severe, widespread inflammation that were very obvious at the autopsy. In short, what happened to your son doesn’t look anything like a cytokine storm, and it’s extremely unlikely that the medical examiner could have missed it if it were. Frankly, the three “independent” pathologists who told you that your son’s post-mortem (!) blood showed that he died of a cytokine storm were probably part of an unsavory cottage industry that has grown up around the antivax movement – “special” lab testing that’s not in line with standard laboratory practices but provides parents with the answers they’re looking for – they’d probably have told you the exact same thing if you’d sent them a vial of pig’s blood. (The same goes for the immunologist you’ve mentioned a few times – if you were referred to him or her by an antivax organization, I would strongly recommend you seek out a second opinion. Besides, if you suspect that you or your children may have a genetic abnormality, a genetic counselor would probably be a more appropriate person to talk to.)

        In any case, finding elevated proinflammatory cytokines in post-mortem blood wouldn’t necessarily indicate hypercytokinemia as the cause of death – many cytokines become elevated after death as the cells begin to die and release damage-associated signals, and death from hypoxia would also raise cytokine levels (this comment is starting to get way longer than I intended, so I’m going to leave out any more links unless you ask for them.) To tell you the truth, the reason I asked so specifically about when the blood was taken was because I suspected that the article got this wrong (accidentally or otherwise) and that it was actually post mortem blood that was taken. Blood from a routine well-baby visit wouldn’t normally be saved for any length of time, but blood that was taken as evidence in the course of an investigation very well might be. Similarly, the VacTruth article quoted you as saying that you asked for it to be stored because you “didn’t like the way things were going,” which would make more sense in the wake of your son’s unexplained death than a routine doctor’s appointment. Frankly, I imagine that the person who wrote the article conveniently “misunderstood” you to mean that the blood was drawn soon after the vaccines were administered because she knew very well that that would be much more convincing evidence of a vaccine-induced cytokine storm than post-mortem blood taken three days later.
        I’m sorry for everything you’ve gone through, and I hope you’re able to find peace. If you have any more questions or want some of those references, let me know (or better yet, try visiting the blog “Respectful Insolence” – quite a few scientists, medical professionals, etc., hang out there, and they’re very good about answering vaccine-related questions. I’ve found it to be a very useful resource.)

        • I remember the TGN1412 phase 1 clinical trial. It was a perfect storm (no pun intended on this tragedy) of what can go horrifically wrong, which has left every one of the volunteers with permanent health problems.
          UK experimental protocols have changed greatly from that experiment.

  8. On the positive side, this story is so full on inconsistencies and errors, only the true believers are going to fall for it.

    • Unfortunately, there are thousands of those and they seem to accept far fetched stories pretty easily.

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