Six months after the MMR jab... a bubbly little girl now struggles to speak, walk and feed herself
By Chris Ellise
Last updated at 7:56 PM on 21st January 2009
Until she had the MMR jab Melody Brook was a bewitching little girl who loved to sing and dance.
Two days later the five-year-old started to limp and fall over and before long she couldn't walk.
Melody was admitted to hospital within a week, but her condition deteriorated at frightening speed.
Today, six months after the routine jab, the schoolgirl is still in hospital and she has regressed to being 'like a baby' again.
Alicia Ellis believes a MMR jab has caused all the problems for her daugther Melody Brook, pictured with brother Jay Jay
Melody can no longer talk, walk or feed herself. She spends her days sitting in a chair and must wear nappies.
She is even unable to hold up her own head, like a weak newborn infant.
Doctors are baffled by her mystery condition and continue to carry out tests to diagnose it and search for a way forward.
They have told Melody's mother Alicia Ellis, 25, there is no reason to believe the MMR vaccine has anything to do with her condition.
However, Miss Ellis is convinced it is the only logical explanation and there could be a connection to a neurological problem she had as a newborn baby.
Miss Ellis, from Leeds, said: 'Show me the evidence that it's not linked to the MMR jab and I might be all right, but they can't.
'It's awful and unbelievable. I want her back like she was. It's like having a baby again. They have done tests and everything has come back negative.'
Melody suffered some brain damage after she picked up a serious herpes virus at two-weeks of age.
The tiny baby was seriously-ill in hospital and was close to death. Doctors feared she would suffer from developmental problems as a result, but to their amazement she made a complete recovery and grew up as a normal, healthy little girl.
Then last July Miss Ellis, a full-time mother-of-three, received a letter advising her to have Melody and her seven-year-old brother Ryan vaccinated.
The mother said she told nurses she was worried about Melody having the measles, mumps and rubella jab because of the infection she had as a baby, but was told 'she'll be fine.'
Two days later the lively schoolgirl was struggling to walk.
'She told me her legs were hurting and she couldn't walk. She used to love dancing but her she was holding on to anything to support herself.
'I took her to a couple of doctors, then hospital, and she was admitted to hospital a week after the jab. She's been there ever since having test after test but she's just not getting any better - in fact she is getting worse.
'They just don't know what's wrong with her, all the tests have come back negative. It's heartbreaking - she can barely move and she has lost her speech.
'I think the jab has attacked the part of her brain that was damaged when she was a baby. It's just too much of a coincidence for this to happen just two days after her jab, but no-one wants to listen to me.'
The shocking decline is graphically shown by two Christmas home videos, one from 2006 of her with her siblings and a contrasting one of Melody unable to do anything for herself last December.
Miss Ellis, whose partner works as a courier, said her daughter was allowed home from Leeds General Infirmary at weekends, but remained in hospital for the forseeable future.
Safety fears resulted in some parents boycotting MMR over a possible link with autism and bowel disease following a controversial 1998 study by Dr Andrew Wakefield and colleagues published in the medical journal The Lancet.
However, British medical and Government experts blame Dr Wakefield's research for sparking a public health scare and say worldwide research has debunked his work.
This month the Information Commissioner said that documents on the introduction of the MMR vaccine should be released by the Department of health.
Richard Thomas ruled that their release was in the public interest despite months of stonewalling by officials.
He said minutes from three committee meetings prior to the introduction of the measles mumps and rubella jab in 1988 should be released under the Freedom of information Act.
The information is likely to include data from the pre-licensing studies of MMR on which the authorities relied when granting a licence before the nationwide childhood immunisation programme starting in 1988.
A spokesman for Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust said:'This is a complex case and our specialists are working hard to understand and diagnose Melody's condition.
'Doctors and nurses are doing everything they can to keep Miss Ellis informed whilst tests are going on, as we know this is a very distressing time.'
The MMR vaccine has been surrounded by controversy, amid claims there could be a link to autism. The NHS and the World health Organisation both recommend the MMR jab and say it is safe.'
VIDEO: Medics baffled as illness leaves Leeds girl like a baby
21 January 2009
By Katie Baldwin
SIX months ago Melody Brook was full of life. Now an illness baffling medics has left the five-year-old struggling to speak, walk, feed herself or even support her head.
Melody has been in hospital for months while doctors try to work out what is wrong.
Her mum Alicia Ellis said: "It's awful and unbelievable. I want her back like she was."
Melody started showing symptoms a few days after having her joint measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccination in July.
She became unsteady on her feet, then started falling over and then was admitted to hospital.
She has been in Leeds General Infirmary since, though returns home to Belle Isle at weekends. Doctors admit they do not know what has caused her disabilities.
Alicia, 25, said: "They have done tests and everything has come back negative.
"Every time she comes out she seems to get worse. I can't get her to stand up at all. She sits in her chair, she's in nappies and she cannot feed herself. It's like having a baby again."
A cherished family video shows Melody at Christmas 2006 dancing with brothers Ryan, now seven, and Jay-Jay, three. But a film from this Christmas shows her unable to even open her own presents.
Alicia has been told Melody has ataxia (co-ordination problems) but doctors do not know why. She suffered minor brain damage after picking up an infection as a baby but this did not affect her development.
Medics rule that out as a cause, though Alicia thinks Melody should not have had the MMR jab because of her medical history.
She is convinced the injection and Melody's illness are linked, though doctors say there's no evidence of this.
"Show me the evidence that it's not that and I might be all right, but they can't," Alicia said.
The combined MMR vaccination was embroiled in controversy several years ago when a now-discredited study linked it to autism and bowel disorders. Three of its authors are facing allegations of misconduct before the General Medical Council.
The NHS and the World health Organisation both recommend the MMR jab and say it is safe.
A spokesman for Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust said: "This is a complex case and our specialists are working hard to understand and diagnose Melody's condition.
"Doctors and nurses are doing everything they can to keep Ms Ellis informed whilst tests are going on, as we know this is a very distressing time."
Ms Ellis would like to hear from any other parents who have experienced similar problems with their children.
Last Updated: 21 January 2009 9:01 AM