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Paralysed after HPV vaccine

KWAME WEEKES Saturday, April 15 2017

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THREE months after she received the first round of the human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccine, a 13-year-old primary school pupil became partially paralysed on the left side of her body.

Danielle Flavinney, of New Grant, received the vaccine in October last year.

Doctors have diagnosed her with a rare psychological disorder but her mother believes the vaccine is to blame.

Six months on Danielle’s mother Jamie Flavinney said the teen has no feeling on the left side of her face, her left arm, left torso or left leg.

She said she traced the beginning of her daughter’s condition to October 21, when she received the first round of the vaccine with other students of the St Matthew’s Anglican Primary School.

The elder Flavinney said Danielle in January began complaining of not feeling anything in her left hand and arm.

“She came to me and said “Mummy, look at my hand. What happen to my hand?” Flavinney said.

“The hand was bent up in a way, almost like it was deformed,” she added.

Again in January, after she first lost feeling in the hand and arm, Danielle received the second round of the vaccine in school.

With no improvement in her condition, Flavinney took her daughter to the Indian Walk Health Centre.

She was then referred to the San Fernando Teaching Hospital.

“They first sent her to a bone doctor who said he couldn’t do anything because she had no broken bones. They did an MRI, but before the results came back they sent a psychiatrist to review her.

“The psychiatrist said he didn’t find anything wrong with her, but he didn’t know why they would send her to him when the results of the MRI didn’t come back yet,” Flavinney said.

An MRA (Magnetic Resonance Angiogram) was also done and doctors said nothing was physically wrong with Danielle’s brain, spine or left hand.

After spending nine days warded at the San Fernando Teaching Hospital, Danielle was diagnosed with ‘conversion disorder’ and discharged.

She has not been back to school since.

In an interview with Newsday, Professor Gerard Hutchinson, head of Clinical Medical Sciences, at the University of the West Indies explained that ‘conversion disorder’ was once called hysteria and suggests that there was some serious psychological conflict that the person has that expresses itself in that way.

Hutchinson said because of Danielle’s age and the fact that her paralysis is only on one side of her body, ‘all physical explanations must be checked out.’ “For example, it could be related to epilepsy, but if they are sure that nothing is going on there, then it is likely to be that (conversion disorder).” Hutchinson said if Danielle did have conversion disorder, it was not a conscious choice.

“It is almost as if your brain is telling your body to react to a stressor or a conflict in this way. So you have to identify the conflict, resolve it, and then the person is able to recover,” he said.

Since her first diagnosis, Danielle’s condition has progressively worsened, her mother said.

In February, she lost feeling in her leg.

Flavinney showed Newsday a video of a doctor pinching Danielle’s torso and sticking her with a needle in different parts of her body during a second visit to the San Fernando Teaching Hospital in February.

In the video, Danielle was seen flinching only when she was pinched and stuck with the needle on the right side of her body.

She was discharged with the same diagnosis of conversion disorder and on February 24, she lost feeling on the left side of her face.

Flavinney also said Danielle has had no bowel movement from January 21 to March 17.

“They (doctors) are telling me that is impossible, but I am telling them what is happening.

What could cause this to happen in a 13-year-old girl?” the worried mother said.

Flavinney says she cannot accept the diagnosis of conversion disorder.

“I am not accepting that. I am not accepting that at all,” she said. She is hoping for another medical opinion.

Contacted for his opinion, gynaecological oncologist Dr Gordon Narayansingh said while he could not comment directly on Danielle’s case since he did not have all the information, he said he has never seen a patient become paralysed after receiving the HPV vaccine.

Narayansingh has been a long-time advocate of the HPV vaccine before its introduction in schools in 2013.

Danielle is scheduled to undergo a counselling session at the Child Guidance Clinic in Pleasantville on May 9.

Her mother, however, is appealing for help to find out what is wrong with the teenager.

Dr Hutchinson has offered to do a clinical assessment at the Eric Williams Medical Sciences

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