December 7, 2022

In an Epoch Health podcast, our very own Dr. Ann Corson spoke with Dr. Andrew Wakefield on the transformational trajectory of his professional career from a distinguished surgeon and scientific researcher in the gastrointestinal field to a critically acclaimed filmmaker.
Dr. Wakefield spoke about his relocation to the United States after being defamed in his own country as a result of a clinical case study he and 12 other authors published in The Lancet in 1998. The paper suggested a possible link between the MMR vaccine and autism that needed further research.
In this podcast, Dr. Wakefield tells us the stories behind his films ‘Who Killed Alex Spourdalakis?‘, ‘Vaxxed: From Cover-Up to Catastrophe’, and ‘1986, The Act.
Wakefield graduated in 1981 from the prestigious St. Mary’s Hospital Medical School in London and in 1985 became a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons as a gastrointestinal surgeon with a specialty in inflammatory bowel disease. He was later accepted into the Royal College of Pathologists and led a research team of 19 people investigating inflammatory bowel disease.
He later relocated to Austin, Texas, where he co-founded and worked at the Thoughtful House Center for Children, now called the Johnson Center for Child Health and Development, an organization dedicated to the advancement of the understanding of childhood development through clinical care, research, and education.
Dr. Wakefield has given numerous presentations and speeches across the globe and is an activist for autism research and vaccine safety awareness. His first feature length film was released in 2014.
Dr. Corson has four decades of clinical practice. Her patient population includes people who are immunocompromised due conditions like Lyme disease and mold-induced illness. She treats with an integrative approach and is known internationally for her success.
Dr. Corson grew up in southeastern Pennsylvania and obtained the Doctor of Medicine degree in 1982 from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in Philadelphia, PA. She was board certified in Family Medicine in 1993 and in Integrative Holistic Medicine in 2011.
Today, she has a solo practice in Philadelphia and cares deeply about medical ethics and humanity. In 2008, she joined the non-profit organization Doctors Against Forced Organ Harvesting (DAFOH) and currently serves as Editor-in-Chief of DAFOH’s e-newsletter.
Dr. Andrew Wakefield is perhaps one of the most misrepresented scientists of the late 20th century. From a long line of doctors, he was the 6th generation of his family to attend the prestigious St. Mary’s Hospital Medical School of the Imperial College London, famous as the place Dr. Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin, among other things.
Wakefield, after being certified as a surgical gastroenterologist, developed a research interest in inflammatory bowel diseases such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.
Wakefield “put together a research team… about 19 strong, working at the Royal Free Hospital in North London, part of the University of London, and [they] published [works on the origins of the aforementioned conditions].”
Wakefield began researching the link between measles and Crohn’s disease, publishing a paper in the Lancet on the topic in 1994. Subsequently, he was approached by parents who believed that MMR vaccines had triggered gastrointestinal and developmental problems in their children.
Wakefield remembered that “in 1995, because of the work [he] was doing, I started getting a series of calls, starting with a very articulate, intelligent, [and] professional mother who said that [her] child was developing perfectly normally… [until] he had his MMR vaccine.” The MMR vaccine is a vaccine against measles, mumps, and rubella, combined into one injection.
The child “was ultimately diagnosed with autism,” and Wakefield said he “knew nothing about autism at all. It was so rare when I was at medical school that we weren’t even taught about it. The estimate was probably one in 10,000 children [had it at that time].”
Wakefield said the child had developed severe gastrointestinal issues with recurring diarrhea about 10-12 times a day and other symptoms that indicated severe bowel inflammation. What fascinated him was “when [his team] treated [children with] this bowel disease as inflammation with… standard inflammatory bowel disease medications, not only was there an improvement in the children’s gastrointestinal problems, but there was an improvement in their autism as well. We didn’t cure autism. But the children started using words they hadn’t used for five years. It was… extraordinary.”
This mother was not the only one who reached out to Wakefield for help, so he put together a team of brilliant researchers to investigate the connection between the MMR vaccine and potential side effects. At the same time, Wakefield’s team helped various children suffering with similar problems to see if the improvements seen with treatment were repeatable. He told Dr. Corson that “[they] did it again… by the time I left [the UK in the early 2000s], the team had done it 180 times [with] different children. And it worked virtually every time.”
“And my colleagues, even my colleagues in this investigation team, said to me, [they, as pediatricians] cannot… question the safety of [the] MMR vaccine. But that meant nothing to me. That wasn’t a medical point of view and it wasn’t a scientific point of view… What about the children who are suffering? What about the children sitting across the desk from you, to whom you have a primary responsibility, not to your reputation [or] how your colleagues might perceive [me], so… there was [a falling out] on this issue… and I decided that I had absolutely no choice, according to my professional training and my humanitarian view of the world, [but] to do this job. I did, and that was really the beginning of the end of my medical career.”
In 1998, Wakefield, Professor John Walker-Smith, and 11 additional scientists, published an observational study in the Lancet detailing their findings from the first 12 children who experienced similar gastrointestinal symptoms. Wakefield claims “[the study] could draw no conclusions other than further work needs to be done.”
“But of course, the media has portrayed this paper as claiming that the [MMR] vaccine causes autism. No, it did not. But I took the view and this is why they went after me. I had to investigate this [further], which I did. And that threatened the vaccine industry, threatened their bottom line and threatened government policy. It threatened international vaccine policy. And clearly, it was perceived as a huge threat. So they came after me.”
“James Murdoch was appointed to the board of GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), Europe’s biggest MMR manufacturer, as a non-executive director and his job was to protect that company’s name and reputation in the media… to come after me, which he did rather effectively.” GSK hired a journalist by the name of Brian Deer to go after Wakefield by publishing a series of defaming papers, articles, and even a book, all in an attempt to completely destroy him professionally and personally. As a result, the Lancet paper was retracted and Wakefield was stripped of his credentials and medical license. False claims against him still appear today. Legal action was taken by Wakefield against Deer in 2020.
Wakefield’s career, however, underwent a pivotal transformation that resulted in him testifying before the United States Congress in 2000. Wakefield recalled giving “a series of talks at autism meetings in the United States,” describing them as “a fascinating experience” as the vast majority of autism conference attendees were parents of vaccine injured children. “I presented the information to them, and as a consequence… the Chairman of the Congressional Oversight Committee at that time, [Congressman] Dan Burton, was himself the grandfather of a vaccine injured child with severe autism. And so there was… a series of hearings on autism under the direction of that Congressman at that time… but unfortunately, it doesn’t seem that much came out of those.”
Subsequently, Wakefield set up an autism center in Austin, Texas that is still in operation today. “To continue the work, I had to lose my country, my career… my license, and all those things. But… that was part of the deal, I guess, for getting the work done or continuing the work.”
“Eventually, they managed to stop me from working in the United States of America, yet… what happened over the years is that people that come to me from the pharmaceutical industry, vaccine manufacturers and from federal agencies, like the CDC, with extraordinary tales… of committing fraud. They would come to me and say, we can trust you. We’ve done a terrible thing and here’s the evidence. So I had these extraordinary stories, insider stories, whistleblower stories, and I decided that it was time to turn these into film.”
Wakefield started a show in collaboration with the Autism File Magazine which turned into a reality TV series until one particular case turned him into a full feature documentary filmmaker.
In his TV series, Wakefield was following various children who were “profoundly autistic, who had severe gastrointestinal problems and the point was to get them diagnosed and treated. Through healing the child, you could also see how they healed the family as well. One day we were called in to see one child in Chicago… at the time… he was in four point lock restraints, chained to the bed, and… [being] given up to 28 psychotropic medications. It was an absolute disaster… [we] went to help get him out of there… [driving] him through the night to New York, where he was investigated, his underlying bowel disease diagnosed and [he was placed] on the right treatment. Things were going well. But his mother was estranged from her husband and had nowhere… permanent to live with her son and his godmother in Chicago.”
Wakefield said that every time the child heard sirens, he would have a traumatic flashback which ended in a complete, physical meltdown. He would damage the motel room, they would be thrown out, and need to find another motel. The child ended up in the same psychiatric hospital, was placed on multiple drugs and chained to the bed, which still didn’t control his anger. There was another rescue attempt, yet his insurance expired halfway through the process. The hospital then “took off his restraints, took out his IV, and they put him on the street.
A week later, his mother stabbed him to death, and the mother and godmother tried to take their own lives. This was portrayed in the media as a crazy mother who hated her child and wanted him dead. Nothing could have been further from the truth. This was a mother who had gone above and beyond for this boy and was now in a state of utter despair.”
This boy was Alex Spourdalakis. “At that time, he was 17, probably 260 pounds, strong and aggressive,” Wakefield said, and the burden of the child was too much for the mother and godmother to handle. “We had all this footage, we shot the whole thing, and we realized that we had the ability to tell the truth. What really happened here, who was really responsible?”
Four years after the mother was placed in prison for murder, the Chicago prosecutor reached out to Wakefield and asked for a copy of the film. The mother was then released from prison; the first time in U.S. legal history that a film resulted in an overturned conviction. Wakefield said, “this was an extraordinary story… it [also made me realize] the power of film, how film, [when] handled properly, told truthfully, can change things dramatically. And so that’s when I shifted from this bit of reality show… into full length feature films.” Alex’s story became Wakefield’s first film, ‘Who Killed Alex Spourdilakis?’
Wakefield then decided to cover the CDC’s 2004 cover-up of the connection between the MMR vaccine and autism. A senior CDC scientist by the name of William Thompson “cracked under the strain of having perpetrated this fraud and [told Dr. Brian Hooker] ‘we’ve done a terrible thing. Here’s the evidence [that] my colleagues destroyed their documents to cover this up. I realized that was against the law and so I kept mine and here they are.’ So [my team and I] put together this extraordinary story of the CDC, deliberately, wantonly, and recklessly putting American children and by proxy, children around the world in harm’s way in the way of a permanent serious neurological disease in order to protect themselves and to protect the vaccine program.” This is how the film ‘Vaxxed: From Cover-Up to Catastrophe’, came to be.
The film was submitted to The Tribeca Film Festival in New York. It was accepted, yet pulled a few weeks before the festival started because of threats from funders. “This was the first time [that a feature] had been pulled from an independent film festival in this way… [For] about three days… I thought my film career was over… Then on the third day, Robert De Niro (one of The Tribeca Film Festival founders) went on… Good Morning America and said, ‘We should not have done that. We made a mistake, everybody should see this film. We did a bad thing.’  Suddenly it exploded worldwide…  if it had played at Tribeca, [maybe] 100 people would have seen it and big deal. This way, millions of people saw it.”
Wakefield also talked about his film, ‘1986: The Act’ which is about how an act passed by the U.S. Congress in 1986 “effectively gave liability protection to the pharmaceutical [industry], the vaccine manufacturers [from] death and injury caused by their vaccines that were on the CDC recommended schedule.”
Wakefield explained that “the act was meant to do three things: it was meant to make vaccines safer by furthering research; it was meant to compensate children who had been injured; and it was [meant] to offer manufacturers a degree of liability protection… The reason for that is… [they came] to the government and said something like, ‘Look, we’re getting sued. You want kids to have these vaccines, it’s not a big profit center for us. Unless you assume liability, take it away from us, we will stop making these vaccines, children will die and it’ll be down to you. How do you feel [about that]?’… so the government panicked… they were open to this kind of blackmail from the pharmaceutical industry.”
‘1986: The Act’ is special to Wakefield in that it took an incredibly complex piece of legislation and explained it in a manner most people could easily understand. The documentary features a husband and wife discussing the pros and cons of vaccinating their unborn child and the ramifications of the 1986 act.
Wakefield also briefly introduced his recent documentary film ‘Infertility: A Diabolical Agenda‘ that exposes how Kenyan women were given a ‘tetanus shot’ that was actually an anti-fertility vaccine.
Another movie is underway, which will keep him quite busy in the weeks to come. Before the podcast with Dr. Corson, Wakefield had just finished a pre-production meeting with Terry Rossio, screenwriter for Shrek, Aladdin, the Pirates of the Caribbean series, discussing their upcoming film.
Wakefield remarked that “My training… was to listen. The art [of medicine]… which is largely lost now to the quasi science of medicine… the ability of the doctor to listen, without bias, and to glean from the patient’s story the origin of their disorder… that is the art of medicine…Why is that so important? Because almost invariably, that will lead you to the cause of the problem. If you listen to a mother about what is wrong with her child, no one knows that child like the mother… if she tells you something in all sincerity, she wasn’t anti-vaccine, [she] took her child to be vaccinated on time, she is merely reporting this is what happened, that is where your starting point is in clinical medicine.”
This was Dr. Wakefield’s starting point in 1994 and is still his starting point for every issue he tackles, with great mastery, to this day.
 
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times. Epoch Health welcomes professional discussion and friendly debate. To submit an opinion piece, please follow these guidelines and submit through our form here.

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