By day: mum of an autistic tot. By night: mum of an autistic tot.
A new inquest is to be held on the death, in Northern Ireland, of school boy Christopher Coulter. The fifteen year old was found dead in his bed at his home just days before Christmas of 1994. Ten days previously he had received an MR (measles and rubella) vaccination that was later replaced with the MMR jab. The inquest held the following year recorded the cause of Christopher’s sudden death as asphyxiation during an epileptic fit. Christopher’s parents, Anne and Harry report that their child had been in robust health and there was no family history of epilepsy. Their belief that the MR vaccine played a role in their son’s death became stronger when they learned of another teenager who had had a non-fatal fit after receiving the vaccine. It has not been shown that the jab was a precipitating factor in this case.
The original, 1995 inquest ruled out the MR vaccine as being related to Christopher Coulter’s death. The Attorney General for Northern Ireland John Larkin QC has now issued a directive to the senior coroner to hold a second inquest in light of what is allegedly new evidence. Padraig O’Muirigh, the solicitor acting for the Coulter family states,
“The Coulter family welcome the decision of the Attorney-General to direct a fresh inquest into the death of Christopher. An application was made by our office under section 14 of the Coroner Act 1959 to the Attorney-General to re-open the inquest in light of the report of Dr Marcel Kinsbourne, a vaccination expert, into the circumstances of the death of Christopher. His findings were that ‘on the balance of probabilities’ Christopher’s seizure and death were caused by the MR vaccine. In addition, he concluded that there was ‘no medically reasonable evidence of an alternative causation.
“The original inquest… relied on the findings of the original pathologist who excluded the role of the MR vaccine. The Coulter family believe that these findings were reached without the body of scientific literature that was available to Dr Kinsbourne.”
So who is “vaccination expert” Dr Marcel Kinsbourne. Let’s start with what he is not. He isn’t an epidemiologist, an infectious disease specialist nor a virologist . So, by the usual measure of things not a vaccine expert. Austrian born Marcel Kinsbourne is, in fact, a retired paediatric neurologist. He testified in the US vaccine court’s Omnibus Autism Proceeding testifying that vaccine strain measles could travel to the brain and cause autism. The Vaccine Court is presided over by Special Masters who commented,
“In a book chapter he authored, Dr Kinsbourne included a chart on the causes of autism. In his testimony he used the same chart but with one addition: he included measles as a cause. Dr Kinsbourne was unwilling to say measles was a cause of autism in a publication for his peers, but was willing to do in a Vaccine Act proceeding.”
Kinsbourne’s career as a “professional witness” started many years before the vaccine-autism nonsense began with testimonies that the DTP (diptheria, tetanus and pertussis) vaccine could lead to brain damage. This hypothesis, too, has been disproven time and time again by rigorous research and epidemiological studies.*
The Special Masters further noted,
“Dr Kinsbourne…derives considerable income from testifying in [Vaccine Act proceedings].”
Vincent Matanowski, for the defense, referring to Kinsbourne among others implored the Special Masters
“Ask yourself…is their place of business the hospital or the courtroom? Do they get paid to testify or do they testify to get paid?”
The Legal Services Commission in the UK who run the legal aid system in England and Wales was forced by investigative journalist, Brian Deer, to release details of the money it paid to witnesses retained by the solicitor Richard Barr. Barr was launching a legal attack on the MMR vaccine in light of the work of Andrew Wakefield, work now known to have been without ethics committee approval and largely fabricated. Dr Kinsbourne received £434,003 plus expenses totalling £3,073.
Dr Kinsbourne is as antivax as they come. He took part in the Ominbus autism proceedings in the Cedillo case – the first to be heard. Theresa Cedillo is severely autistic and has a whole host of other disabilities including epilepsy. Kinsbourne had already demanded and received a $1,200 retainer directly from this family who hoped that a ruling in their favour would help to alleviate the financial stress the family was under. Kinsbourne’s role, as a professional witness was, ostensibly, to back up the testimony of Dr. Vasken Aposhian who testified that:
He’d only dreamed up his causation theory relating to vaccines and autism, “about three or four weeks ago based on journal articles from other scientists.” That is, three to four weeks before the trial – years in the making – commenced;
Theresa Cedillo’s condition is a “mercury efflux disorder”;
On cross examination Aposhian had to admit that no child had ever become autistic as a result of mercury exposure and
He disputed that it is “the dose that makes the poison” – strange testimony indeed from a toxicologist.
Kinsbourne was to be the “autism expert” though he had, by the time of the 2007 hearings not seen a patient in more than 17 years and had never diagnosed a child with autism. As an autism expert he lacked the degree of specialist knowledge he lacks as vaccine expert.
With regards to Christopher Coulter’s case, Marcel Kinsbourne has asserted that,
“…on the balance of probabilities Christopher’s seizure and death were caused by the MR vaccination. Furthermore, there is no medically reasonable evidence of an alternative causation.”
This is a huge overstatement and one you would hope a paediatric neurologist would know better than to make. Juvenile myoclonic epilepsy typically has its onset in the teenage years and sufferers experience generalized tonic-clonic seizures – though some with the condition have absences. Commonly, these seizures occur shortly after waking. This kind of epilepsy accounts for up ton 10% of all diagnosed cases. So here is another possibility that Kinsbourne has dismissed out of hand that the pathologist at the first inquest could not discard.
Christopher Coulter’s parents’ drive to understand what took their apparently healthy son from them at such a young age is entirely understandable. It must be hard to accept that a condition can occur de novo, entirely out of the blue and rob you of that which is most precious to you. For the likes of Kinsbourne to take advantage of their grief with his sweeping and unfounded statements alone is reprehensible.
It is not beyond the realms of possibility that the vaccine contributed to this child’s death. However, having Marcel Kinsbourne as the star witness against the vaccine will, I feel, do this case no favours. As the Special Master put it, Kinsbourne, “Suffers from the stigma attached to a professional witness.” Let’s hope, for the sake of Christopher Coulter’s family, that Kinsbourne’s influence isn’t a hinderance to finding the truth and that this second inquest will help them find peace whatever its outcome.*Samuel Berkovic director of the Epilepsy Research Centre, Melbourne, Australia, studied the cases of adults who had suffered brain damage thought to be the result of the DTP vaccine. What he found, using genetic testing, was that eleven of the fourteen individuals had a rare form of epilepsy, Dravet’s Syndrome (100% of whom go on to have seizures). Berkovic stated that finding genetics can be responsible for encephalopathy in particular children, “should finally put to rest the case for vaccination being the primary cause.” If only.