Unprotected People Reports: Chickenpox
Chickenpox Claimed the Life of My Son Christopher
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I have faced the worst nightmare any parent can possibly
face. There is no experience on earth that compares to
the horror and devastation of losing a child. It is
shattered dreams, crushed wishes, and a future that
suddenly vanishes before our eyes. It cannot be wished
away, slept away, prayed away, or screamed away.
It is darkness, agony, and shock. It leaves our hearts broken,
bleeding, and bursting with pain, and it changes us forever.
My life changed forever on June 30, 1988, when I had to stand by helplessly
as an infectious disease claimed the life of my oldest child, Christopher Aaron
Chinnes, at the age of 12.
Christopher was a beautiful little boy who had light blonde hair and deep,
brown eyes. He was full of compassion, joy, and energy. He loved baseball, and
every living creature on the earth. He wanted to be a scientist or doctor. I can
honestly say that my son was one of the most beautiful human beings I have ever
known, and I am proud to have been his mother.
Christopher was born a very healthy child, but at the age of eight he
developed asthma. It was never a problem for him, and it never kept him from
doing the things he loved. But on June 16, 1988, four years after he was
diagnosed, he suffered his first and only severe asthma attack. He had to be
hospitalized and was treated with all of the normally prescribed drugs,
including corticosteroids (anti-inflammatory drugs used in asthma, arthritis,
He was released four days later with several medications to finish at home,
and he was well on his way to recovery. On June 23, exactly one week after the
asthma attack, he broke out with the chickenpox. "Don't worry, you'll get
over it," I told him. What I didn't know was that the corticosteroid had lowered his body's immune
response and he could not fight the disease. The chickenpox began to rampage
wildly through his young body. As I drove him to the emergency room on June 27,
my four younger children watched silently in shock and horror as their brother
went into seizures, went blind, turned gray, and collapsed due to hemorrhaging
in his brain. That afternoon Christopher was flown from Camp Lejuene's Naval Hospital to
East Carolina University's Medical Center, but the chickenpox was
uncontrollably sweeping through him like a wildfire, and there was nothing
anyone could do.
The next day Christopher suffered a cardiac arrest and slipped into a
coma. As my beautiful little boy lay swollen beyond recognition and
hemorrhaging from every area imaginable, including out into the blisters
on his skin, I learned that a vaccine existed, but was not yet licensed by
the FDA. A vaccine that could have prevented the unimaginable suffering of
my child, and all who knew him.
On June 30, 1988, exactly one week after breaking out with chickenpox,
Christopher passed away. He died. He wasn't injured. He wasn't left acting
differently. He wasn't crippled. He died. My priceless little boy lay on a
cold steel table, swollen beyond recognition, cold, and dead. Gone
from me. Gone from life itself. I cannot hold him, kiss him, see his
smile, or listen to his laughter as he chases a ball or bullfrog.
Instead, I visit a grave. The chickenpox virus destroyed every organ in
his body, and it cut pieces from the hearts of everyone who witnessed its
No one is sure just what dose of corticosteroid it takes to lower an
individual's resistance, and most people on these valuable drugs do well
when they get the chickenpox. Without knowing for sure though, who would
want to take a chance. Do not take anyone off of corticosteroids
suddenly! The drug has to be withdrawn slowly. Consult your doctor for
more information, and don't get scared, be informed.
Please don't get the impression that only those who are immunosuppressed
can have problems with chickenpox. Anyone can. In fact about half of those
who suffer complications or die each year are normal healthy people.
Vaccines prevent countless deaths each year. Without them the number of
valuable human beings we'd lose would be staggering. Yes, sadly, some
injuries and deaths occur as a result of vaccines, but unfortunately,
there are risks with every single drug we use. We have and will not ever
reach perfection. We must remember that the benefits of our vaccines far
outweigh the risks. Especially for those who are ill or immunosuppressed
like Christopher was. There are innocent children and adults who come in
contact with the public everyday who would die if they were exposed to the
diseases we can prevent. If everyone around them is vaccinated, they are
also protected. We owe it to them and to ourselves as a nation to achieve
the highest level of protection possible. We must win the world-wide
war against infectious disease, and vaccines are our most powerful
weapons. We cannot win, however, if we do not use them. Leaving any
population unprotected is like surrendering to a defeatable foe. We must
References for Rebecca Cole's testimony can be found on her website.
Please see the link below.
Rebecca Cole's Congressional testimony also appears on her website which
is dedicated to her son Christopher. To visit this site, go to:
|11/16/99 • REPORT #21
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