Versión en español aquí.
I’m honored to introduce a documentary made by anthropologist and journalist Mario Lamo Jiménez who brings a heart-wrenching testimony of Colombian teenagers and two adult women whose lives were damaged by Gardasil, the vaccine against the human papilloma virus (HPV) made by the pharmaceutical company Merck.
The documentary soundtrack is both beautiful and original. Inti Calapi and Mario Lamo provide the music and lyrics, respectively of the very first song of this growing social movement. We can also listen to a heart-felt poem read by the author herself Valentina Martínez from Barranquilla, who locked in her body cries for justice, health, and dignity for HPV victims. In the background, Ecuadorian group Charijayac music enriches victims’ testimony while Joseph Mujica’s art marks the transition from one experience to another. The images taken by Adolfo Baltazar in his visit to El Carmen de Bolívar powerfully remind us the magnitude of this scourge that hit more than 700 adolescents and their families of this Caribbean population today forgotten by the Colombian State. The total number of victims exceed one thousand (1,000) as the otherwise uninformative Universidad de Cartagena study recently confirmed. Closed captioning was provided by Mary Lamo, Bilingual Voices & Mary Atwood.
The testimonies of two (2) deceased girls are described:
Karen Durán-Cantor from Fusagasugá, who at 16 years old suffered from scleroderma. Her testimony is a powerful legacy for the intelligence and courage of this young girl who swiftly tells us about her ordeal triggered by the Gardasil vaccine and urges us to fight for women’s rights.
Astrid Carolina Méndez (Caro) is another girl who died after a prolonged disease caused by Gardasil and who remained hospitalized receiving antibody removal therapies and other procedures to save her life. – Caro’s mother, Mrs. María Angela Pinilla, tells a heart breaking testimony about her daughter’s suffering. – From my side I can tell that Astrid Carolina’s case was one of the first victims I came to know about thanks to her sister Liz Pinilla with whom I chatted by Facebook. Liz shared with me Astrid Carolina’s clinical history when she sought help at the Juan N Corpas Hospital. While chatting, I was reading the 10-12 pages of her clinical history to quickly interpret for Liz the medical jargon and next steps physicians would follow. For a moment I asked Liz to stop because a lump in my throat prevented me from continuing. I had just read that Astrid Carolina was rapidly losing strength and sensitivity of legs and arms while doctors only observed and failed to admit this adverse reaction described by the manufacturer of Gardasil. Liz understood and after a while we resumed our conversation. The diagnosis soon appeared in the pages: Guillain-Barré syndrome. We kept in touch during Astrid Carolina’s relapses and improvements, but her clinical deterioration was progressive as when her breathing was compromised due to muscle weakness that required intubation. Her disease was relentless.
Valentina Valencia Vélez and her mom Ana Milena Valdéz from Medellín tell their testimony of an aggressive disease that severely threatened Valentina’s life. Valentina was forced to receive the second Gardasil dose despite her family objections as the first shot had already made her ill. Valentina is a very intelligent girl who narrates her clinical history in detail of one of the longest in-hospital stays triggered by Gardasil (a serious adverse event). I briefly reviewed her case, which is supported by serological evidence of autoimmunity as the presence of anti-nerve tissue auto-antibodies and improvement with antibody removal therapies (IVIg and plasmapheresis). At the time we reviewed that booster doses worsen the autoimmune disease triggered by the first dose, thus supporting a dose-dependent immune-mediated response. – Ana Milena and Valentina are exemplary fighters for overcoming disease adversity and the fierce hostility that the Colombian healthcare system has wielded ruthlessly against Gardasil victims. Ana Milena is a natural leader, she was the founder and first president of the Rebuilding Hope Association. During her tenure, the foundation made important achievements, her open, inclusive and conciliatory attitude allowed her to bring together victims who struggled individually.
Juliana Vera Ruiz speaks before the Council of Bogotá (2016) and recounts her academic difficulties as a university student afflicted by a dysautonomic disease caused by the HPV vaccine.
María Paula Salamanca Triana from Bogotá, a skating athlete who at 13 stood out in representation of Colombia, tells how her excellent physical condition was impaired by the Gardasil shot.
Doubly impacted is Freddy Alberto Escobar Pérez, father of María Paula and Angela Liset Escobar Muñoz, who became ill with a severely autoimmune disease in 2013 after receiving the Gardasil vaccine.
Among adult women who lost their professions and ways of income, is Adela Torres from Bogotá who participated in a vaccine study at CAFAM sponsored by Merck in 2004. She suffers from Anti-Phospholipid Syndrome, Sjogren’s Syndrome complicated by hydrocephalus and possibly ASIA Syndrome (Auto-immune-inflammatory syndrome induced by Adjuvants).
A televised testimony is given by María del Pilar Pomar Rivera, a young woman who tells her case before the Colombian Congress (2015) and denounces the epidemic of Gardasil adverse events in Carmen de Bolivar and rest of the country. Maria del Pilar is one of the strongest voices among Colombian HPV victims for her leadership, understanding of the disease and ability to summarize complex information. María del Pilar occupies a special place in my memory, because despite her illness and at her own risk, she visited the town of Carmen de Bolívar (Oct 18, 2014). There she met Blanca Victoria Sabagh, another key leader and both of them assembled parents and community leaders to invite affected girls and their parents to voluntarily participate in the S-LANSS survey. The S-LANSS survey was a pilot project that revealed the neuropathic nature of the disease suffered by those vaccinated with Gardasil. My first article on neuropathic pain was only possible due to María del Pilar’s bravery, Blanca Victoria’s leadership and girls’ willingness to provide information about their disease. This pilot project gave the feasibility of launch a more ambitious one like a comprehensive symptom survey, which is the only study at the moment that has identified the autoimmune and neuropathic nature of Gardasil adverse events in Colombian women as a group. A year later (Nov 2015), Mexican rheumatologist Dr. Manuel Martinez-Lavin reached a similar conclusion in a 3-survey study that included the S-LANSS questionnaire in HPV vaccinated participants from 13 countries including Colombian women.
Because the damage caused by Gardasil is huge, victims are taking their fight beyond the health care arena. On the other corner, the pharmaceutical company Merck, the United Nations, individual governments, private and independent bodies, academic, scientific and research community, health providers and insurers are all together waging a well-orchestrated conspiracy to protect the deadly vaccine with anti-ethical, irresponsible and illegal procedures to harm their own women. That has legal consequences and so attorney Mónica León del Rio has an important testimony to tell both as mother and lawyer. Her daughter Alejandra suffered similar neuropathic reactions to those described above. Monica along with Colombian victims nationwide have filed a lawsuit against the pharmaceutical Merck for 160 million dollars. – A major win for HPV victims and all Colombians, was the legal complaint made by Attorney Alba Lucia Murillo Maya on behalf of plaintiffs Edith Perdomo Londoño (mom) and Aura Cristina Campo Perdomo (daughter) that was evaluated by the Colombian Constitutional Court. The Sentence T-365 of 2017 ruled that application of the human papilloma virus vaccine CANNOT be mandatory, and that every individual is autonomous to receive it on his own will without any imposition. In addition it ruled that every individual has the right to be informed about risks and benefits and give informed consent. – Japanese victims filed a lawsuit in 2013. The family of a girl from Spain won a legal dispute against two health care facilities for failure to diagnose her adverse reaction to the first HPV vaccine dose that upon administration of the second dose led to her death. We hope these legal efforts will pave the way for justice to victims whose lives were harmed by a severe autoimmune disease that is openly denied and completely preventable.
Many thanks to Mario Lamo, producer of this documentary that summarizes succinctly and emotionally one serious and unnecessary disease that both Colombian women and those from around the world suffer due to the Gardasil deadly poison. Please follow the links to realize about Mario’s many contributions to inform and help victims by interviews, videos, reviews, critical op-eds, presentations in international conventions, the first HPV victim’s song and of course this beautiful and informative albeit sad documentary.