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Mother sues drugs firm over vaccine; `My son was left with brain damage'.

Byline: Mike Hornby

A MERSEYSIDE mother is suing a major drugs company. believing a common childhood vaccine has left her son brain-damaged.

Ann-Marie Walker, of Birkenhead, is one of more than 100 parents who say their children have been left with severe disabilities by the combined DPT vaccine.

Made by pharmaceutical giant GlaxoWellcome, it protects against diphtheria, pertussis - whooping cough - and tetanus.

Ms Walker's son, Daniel Levell, 11, was diagnosed with West Syndrome, a condition which causes spasms in very young children, shortly after he received his DPT vaccinations at three months old.

Daniel now suffers from severe disability and epilepsy.

Ms Walker and Daniel's father, Shawn, say all these conditions can be traced back to his DPT injection.

Their solicitors, Alexander Harris, are representing more than 100 families who claim their children have been injured by the same vaccine.

They are to present documents, including new medical evidence, about the case to the Legal Aid Board.

If the board decides there is a case for Glaxo to answer, the action could become one of the biggest medical compensation claims in British legal history.

Ms Walker, 30, said: ``It is important that people realise this has nothing to do with the MMR, it is a completely different issue.

``Daniel had the DPT vaccine at three months old, at the time we were living in London and he was treated by our GP.

``But quite soon afterwards he began showing symptoms of strange behaviour.

``At first Daniel was diagnosed with West Syndrome and now he has severe epilepsy. He is brain-damaged and needs constant care.

``The doctors say they don't know what caused all this, but I am convinced it can be traced back to the DPT vaccine.

``Daniel is a very happy, special young boy and we are taking this legal action because we need to safeguard his future.'' DPT vaccine is given in three doses at monthly intervals starting usually from two months of age.

It is not uncommon for there to be no reaction after the first dose but then reactions to the second or third. Reactions usually occur within three days of vaccination and certainly within less than a week.

Shawn, 38, said: ``On the same day Daniel had his vaccination he suffered his first fit.

``In the days following, he was having up to 20 or 30 fits a day.

``When our daughter Kirsty was born we demanded that she have the injections separately and she has been fine.''

Cheshire-based Alexander Harris is one of the country's leading medical law firms representing scores of MMR families and the relatives of Harold Shipman's victims.

A firm spokesman said: ``Alexander Harris is now acting for more than 100 `children' who are either very young or now in their 40s whose parents believe they have been damaged as a result of the vaccine. All are very serious cases which if successful shall result in maximum damages but this case is still at the very earliest stage.

``We have some updated medical evidence relating to the DPT vaccine which we are taking to the Legal Aid Board.

``If they feel there is a case to answer we will be granted funding to proceed.''

GlaxoWellcome declined to comment last night.

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CLAIM: Daniel and Ann-Marie Walker at home in Birkenhead
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Sep 5, 2002
Words:550
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