Je was misschien net zo geschokt als ik toen je in 2009 de reportage zag over Desiree Jennings, de cheerleader die na een griepprik de neurologische aandoening dystonie kreeg. Volgens Jennings kreeg ze 10 dagen na de prik opeens last van spiertrekkingen en kon ze niet meer normaal praten en lopen. Tenminste, tenzij ze achteruit liep of vooruit rende, dan herstelde alles zich weer miraculeus.

“Wat ontzettend erg en eng”, dacht ik nog, en volgens het nieuwsbericht zou dit mogelijk eens op zoveel miljoen voorkomen. Ik vond het gek dat ik er nooit eerder over had gehoord, “maar blijkbaar kan het”, dacht ik onkritisch. Ik weet nu eenmaal niets van spierziekten en op dat moment dacht ik er niet verder over na.

Ik had natuurlijk beter moeten weten.

Ik was niet de enige die er verder niet al te veel over nadacht want hier brengt Fox nog een reportage over een 8 mijl hardloopwedstrijd die Jennings vervolgens liep, “bringing awareness to her illness”.

Alleen wat Jennings had, werd helemaal niet veroorzaakt door de griepprik. Sterker nog, ze had ook geen dystonie maar juist een psychische aandoening. Dr. Stephen Grill legt het uit:

Jennings verhaal werd opgepikt door Generation Rescue, een organisatie met de slogan ‘autisme is omkeerbaar’ die is opgericht door antivaccinatie kopstukken Jenny McArthy en Jim Carrey. Generation Rescue bracht Jennings in contact met Dr. Rashid Buttar. Een osteopaat die al eens beschuldigd is van onprofessioneel gedragoplichting van kankerpatiënten en iets te enthousiast zijn met de diagnose kwikvergiftiging, diagnosticeerde Jennings met o.a. kwikvergiftiging.

Hieronder een interview met Buttar:

“She was actually seizing, having a seizure probably every forty-five to sixty seconds. (…) She was having periods of anoxia where she stopped breathing anywhere from fifteen to thirty seconds. Her progression of her pathology was so unbelievable. They had to carry her in, (…)  That was Monday morning. By noon we had her stable to the point that she was able to breathe without going into a seizure…

“She came in this morning she felt better, looked better, but still unable to talk. We continued with our treatments, and I told her once we got ready to hang the DMPS and the EDTA and some of the other, the MTEs that are certain IVs that we do, I told her that now the magic should start, prepared her for what I expected to happen…

“It’s not just chelation [verwijderen van zware metalen] but chelation was definitely a part of it … we had to the first day stabilize her because she was in a hyper-responsive mode and so we had to stabilize her. We gave her a couple of different IVs to stimulate the lymphatics to help build her nutritional status up because I knew that she hasn’t been eating. I couldn’t even do an exam on her without her having seizures so, we basically prepped her, we got her ready we got her stable, and then the second day was more aggressive treatment, where we were hitting her for natural forms of antivirals in IVs – you know which one I’m talking about that’s one of them – and then on top of that there was a couple of other things including the chelators, we gave her two different chelators, and then IV antioxidants. … The best I could have hoped for yesterday, she did 20% more than that. Today, my gut told me that by Wednesday this woman will be back. I was wrong, it happened today…

“You can see the incredible progression, this woman was in such severe respiratory stridor, her bronchioles were going into spasms because of the toxicity from, part of it could be the attenuated virus, certainly some of it was the mercury, but her whole system was starting to shut down. (…) I told the president of Generation Rescue that if he hadn’t gotten her to me when he did…

“Anybody who says that this woman was dealing with a psychogenic issue, it was in her head, they are– we don’t even have to address it because they’re just going to embarrass themselves. Because when you see the video of her when she came in, when she was seizing, when she couldn’t breathe, when she was going through fifteen to thirty second lapses of– physically incapable of ventilating, anybody who says that, they will be literally laughed at. (…)”

Neuroloog Steve Novella, bekend van en als host van de (uitstekende) podcast The Skeptic’s Guide to the Galaxy schreef echter het volgende:

“If Jennings really had dystonia or any biological brain injury from toxicity, removing the toxin might prevent further progression and allow the slow process of recovery to begin. But brain damage does not immediately reverse itself once the cause is removed. It is possible for dystonia to be a side effect of certain medications, and it can immediately resolve once that medication is stopped or reversed. But in that situation we are dealing with an effect of an active blood level of a pharmaceutical agent – something which is inherently reversible. We are not dealing with damage or injury.

Further, it is highly implausible that Jennings (even if she received the highest dose of thimerosal from the flu vaccine – 25 micrograms) had any mercury left in her system from the vaccine she received in August. Mercury from vaccines is removed naturally within days, and would not be hanging around in significant amounts two months later.

However, now Jennings herself, and Dr. Buttar, report that Jennings began to improve while still sitting in the chair and receiving her chelation therapy, and within 36 hours her symptoms were completely gone. First, let me say that I am very happy Ms. Jennings’ symptoms have resolved. Hopefully now she can just go on with her life. But to me, this impossibly rapid recovery is a dramatic confirmation that her symptoms were psychogenic to begin with. It is simply implausible that brain injury from mercury toxicity could be reversed so quickly – especially when you consider that Dr. Buttar had Jennings at death’s door.

The whole affair has now come full circle. To scientists and skeptics, this is an unfortunate story of a young woman with a psychogenic illness who unfortunately was exploited by some headline grabbing media and the anti-vaccine movement. To the anti-vaccinationists and the right-wing conspiracy health-freedom nuts, this is yet another story of an injury at the hands of evil vaccines, and all attempts to figure out what was really happening here are just lame attempts by the medical establishment to cover their behinds.”

Jennings werd door de reporter uit het eerste filmpje nog eens bezocht:

Ik ben in elk geval weer gerustgesteld en heb onlangs nog met een gerust hart enkele inentingen gehaald. Maar ik had in de eerste instantie natuurlijk eerst even wat dieper moeten graven voordat ik mezelf ongerust maakte.