Story told by Sharon, Kirstie’s Mom
Kirstie’s life before Gardasil was full of so many activities – including dodgeball, games at summer recreation, soccer, basketball and softball. She is also a very talented musician, playing the clarinet, saxophone, ukulele and piano and singing in all of her school’s choruses. Kirstie actively participates in a musical theatre class and her school’s drama club (she has had lead roles in school plays and musicals). Her dream is pursuing a career in vocal performance or a profession involving music. She is an A student with a wide variety of interests. Fortunately the musical side of her life has not been affected by her health problems after Gardasil.
Kirstie had her first vaccine on April 23, 2007 (she was 12) and we saw nothing strange at that time. Within the next few weeks, she began to develop large, dark bruises on her arms and legs, which I attributed to her playing soccer (she was the goalie) and lacrosse. My husband was beginning to worry about the bruises but didn’t say anything to me. On May 29th she received the second shot. Again, the only thing happening was the bruising. On June 17th, she began her second menstrual cycle ever, which lasted 10 days. On June 18th, I took her to the doctor to have her tested for strep throat, which came back negative. The nurse practitioner commented about the bruises and said something about Kirstie playing sports – she was not concerned about them.
On June 29th while at an amusement park, Kirstie started haemorrhaging from her vagina and it lasted for 2 hours. It stopped and then began again the next day, continuously bleeding for 2 hours. On Monday, July 2nd, I got her to her paediatrician’s office and they realized that her platelets were very low (18,000). They immediately sent us to the hospital to meet with a paediatric haematologist who told us that she had Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura (ITP).
When I mentioned that the only thing that Kirstie had done differently was having the HPV vaccine, he said he would have to think about this as his granddaughter was scheduled to have her first dose that month. That is the only time he would ever confirm the possibility that the vaccine caused her ITP. Because no one understands what causes ITP and because they believe it could be caused by a virus, the fact that Kirstie was diagnosed with a virus during this time is enough to have the medical professionals believe it was not caused by a vaccine. However, the virus, if it existed, did not appear until after Kirstie was vaccinated.
Throughout that summer, Kirstie’s platelets continued to drop and in late July she received a treatment that boosted her platelet level to normal. It lasted about 30 days and then her platelets were low for the next several months. Kirstie has missed several soccer, basketball and softball seasons because of her ITP. Last year (2010) she missed all seasons and right now her platelets are too low for her to play. She does not suffer from nosebleeds or excessive bruising/bleeding so her condition goes unnoticed unless we have her platelet level checked.
We are very lucky; in the spring of 2010 she developed mono – her platelets did not drop very much and she recovered quickly. Kirstie does not feel ill from ITP – it really only affects her playing contacts sports which are a big part of her life. We naturally hope that her condition will improve and that her health returns to normal and she can get back to doing all of the things she really enjoys.