East Texas mother moves forward after medical lie

By Morgan Chesky - bio | email

TYLER, TX (KLTV) -  It was the news breaking more than a decade of lies to millions of Americans.  A investigative report found a cornerstone study linking the Measles-Mumps-Rubella or MMR Vaccine to Autism was fraud.

The doctor behind it is believed to have doctored its results. The new report brings closure to families dealing with Autism, but not without serious frustration.

"That someone would do that and harm so many people is appalling," said Debbie Matteucci. "13 years of time and money that could have been put into making a better life for my child who is now 22 and is no longer an autistic child but an autistic adult."

When Dr. Andrew Wakefield released his study in 1998 Debbie's son Danny fit the profile. A ten year old suffering from Autism, Danny got his MMR vaccination at a young age. Too late for prevention, the Matteucci's turned to Wakefield's findings for hope.

"If it was a possibility of finding maybe this is a cause, then if you find the cause you've got a good shot and finding a treatment or solution," said Debbie.

As years went by, Danny's Autism progressed, while the initial study only spread vaccine fear nationwide.

"He went from being a bad scientist to a discredited scientist to somebody who committed fraud and is a criminal in my mind," said pediatrician Rick Rogers.

Wakefield's undoing only fuels Rogers message to vaccinate plastered all over his clinic walls.

"Vaccines have been a huge success probably more important than anything else pediatricians do and the lack of it would be disaster," said Rogers.

But Rogers says the damage may have already been done. Seeds of doubt could lead to a generation drop in vaccine, bringing back diseases we've prevented for decades.

"Nobody is saying vaccines are 100% safe they never have been," said Rogers."They just beat the diseases in every study the vaccine is safer than the disease."

For the Matteucci's, hope now lies in another direction as they pray for an answer for Autism.

"I've seen parents destroyed by what their children have to go through," said Debbie. "If this is not an avenue that can give us an answer there are other avenues out there and there are other needs than me being angry about it."

Studies show since Wakefield's report was released in 1998, a resurgence of measles has been seen in small outbreaks in Europe and the U.S. Wakefield says despite being stripped of his medical license in Britain, he will continue his work.

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