May 2, 2016
Desperate to share her story, a Texas mother is speaking out about the traumatic injuries her young daughter sustained after being injected at six months old with a total of eight vaccine doses.
About a month after infant Cerenity received the DTaP/Hib/IPV (5-in-1 combo), hepatitis B, pneumococcal Prevnar 13, and the oral Rotavirus vaccine, she suffered several major injuries and grew increasingly unwell.
Prior to the six month vaccination mark, Cerenity was a healthy baby with normal physical and cognitive development. But after receiving the eight vaccine doses, she became fussy and lethargic, according to her mother July Garza. A month later, the child’s health took a sharp turn for the worse.
Searching for answers
Cerenity suddenly became unresponsive, both mentally and physically. She could not hold her head up right or move her arms, and appeared to display symptoms of a stroke. The child was rushed to the emergency room at Memorial Hermann Greater Heights Hospital in Houston, Texas, where she received a CT scan and an MRI.
The doctor admittedly had no answers for the Garza family and sent them home, referring them to a pediatrician. Distraught and frightened, they reluctantly complied.
“I was so scared to even put her down,” wrote Mrs. Garza in a heart wrenching narrative published on VacTruth. “We were sent home with her paralyzed,” but we just didn’t know it yet, she added.
By the next morning, Cerenity was unable to sit and appeared paralyzed in several parts of her body, prompting her family to skip the pediatrician visit and rush straight to Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital in downtown Houston where the child was placed in the Intensive Care Unit.
The medical team there quickly pointed the finger at the Garzas before calling Child Protective Services and accusing them of shaking their baby. The accusers eventually backed down from the accusations and apologized before vindicating the family of any misconduct.
But before breathing a sigh of relief, the Garzas were told their daughter may never walk or even crawl again. Just a month after meeting the six-month vaccine mark, Cerenity was in the ICU on a breathing machine.
“I couldn’t deal. It was awful. They had her in the ICU for 8 days and treated her with steroids. … She had bleeding in her brain, ended up paralyzed and was diagnosed with transverse myelitis spinal cord disease,” said Mrs. Garza.
Transverse myelitis is a neurological disorder caused by inflammation of the spinal cord and can be caused by some vaccinations (including chickenpox and rabies), according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.
Cerenity survived but continued suffering from chronic injuries and pain. She had trouble walking, numbness in her feet, headaches and constant back pain. Her mother says she would have episodes where she appeared “stuck for 30 to 45 minutes.”
The Garzas were shuffled from doctor to doctor, visiting medical facilities in Laredo, San Antonio and Houston. Last year, Cerenity was diagnosed with Chiari malformation, a disorder causing brain tissue to extend into the spinal canal.
The cause of Chiari malformation is poorly understood, but experts theorize that it’s a result of structural defects in the brain and spinal cord. However, it can also occur later in life due to spinal injury, “exposure to harmful substances, or infection,”according to the NIH.
The Garzas were happy to have a diagnosis but faced another challenge: a constant and aggressive push for more vaccines. Despite Cerenity’s unstable condition, several doctors pressured the family to complete the child’s vaccine schedule.
The Garza’s resisted. Who will be responsible if our daughter gets sicker? Cerenity’s father asked worriedly. I don’t want to lose my baby, he added. The doctor refused to answer, stating simply “Sorry, it’s our policy.”
“We were bullied into vaccinating”
The family gave in when Cerenity’s access to care was threatened. The doctor promised to ease their concerns by giving the child two to three vaccines at a time. Cerenity’s health worsened after the second round of immunizations, received in October 2015.
Five months later Mrs. Garza learned that the doctor lied to them and against their knowledge injected Cerenity again with a 5-in-1 combo vaccine, DTaP-Hep B-IPV, and a Hib vaccine.
“I had no idea they gave her 6 vaccine doses until recently. I was angry and shocked!” said Mrs. Garza.
“I felt bullied and didn’t know my rights,” she went on to say.
Despite being deterred by doctors, the Garzas filed and won a vaccine exemption for their daughter, who is now three years old.
Cerenity can walk but still has numerous health complications including chronic headaches, irritability, severely damaged vision, speech impediments, difficulty communicating and behavioral problems.
Every morning, she wakes up with pain and cries, says Mrs. Garza, adding that they were forced to place Cerenity back into diapers because of bowel movement problems.
“I want my baby’s story heard so that others won’t make the same mistake I did. I wish I could go back in time and had never allowed her to get those shots. I feel as I took her chance of a normal life.”