Sam Jackson and Tom Philbin were so thrilled with their bright, healthy, happy six-month-old baby. When Tom’s parents arriving from England to meet their new grandson, they commented on what an alert bub he was. Sam recalls thinking her baby “looked wise”.
But when Luke had his routine vaccinations, the family's world fell apart. Just seventeen hours after being immunised, Sam noticed her son was twitching and had a strange look on his face.
As she was racing him to the car to take him to hospital, he started fitting so violently he was frothing at the mouth. She called an ambulance and, by the time paramedics arrived, Luke was turning blue.
''I was screaming. I thought he was dead. It was really, very traumatic,'' she recalled in an interview with The Sydney Morning Herald.
Doctors assured Luke's parents that the seizures were nothing to worry about, probably related to a fever caused by his routine immunisations the day before. They sent him home. Ten days later, he began fitting again and returned to hospital, where he had a third seizure so violent he had be resuscitated. His parents have since had 30 ambulance rides to hospital with their son and he has suffered over 500 seizures, some lasting up to 14 hours. Each one has damaged his brain a little further.
Luke’s tragic story was told on SBS last night, as part of the documentary Jabbed: Love, Fear and Vaccines.
In the documentary, Sam and Tom explain that they became convinced Luke's immunisations were to blame for his condition. And while it would be easy to conclude that his parents were right and his vaccinations were to blame, the truth is far more complex.
During her search for answers, Sam Jackson came across an article by a woman whose son had Dravet syndrome – a rare and severe form of epilepsy. She describes reading the article as being like ''like looking in the mirror''. The couple sought a gene test that confirmed the diagnosis.