April 9, 2011
A Hamilton toddler who was mistakenly injected with a vaccine to prevent cervical cancer when he was just six weeks old has developed a rare form of leukaemia.
Chace Topperwien began chemotherapy for the M7 strand of acute myeloid leukaemia on his second birthday last month, but doctors cannot tell them whether the Gardasil vaccine he was injected with in May 2009 caused the cancer.
His parents, Ryan and Keri Topperwien, are devastated at the diagnosis after they were reassured at the time of the incident that their baby would not suffer any adverse reactions.
“I had thought in the very back of my mind that the absolute worst thing they could say is leukaemia,” Mrs Topperwien said. “When they said that he had it, it blindsided both of us.”
The couple, both 27, were horrified when at six weeks old their son was given the vaccination meant for teenage girls instead of one to prevent meningitis.
Gardasil targets the human papillomavirus, which causes warts on the hands, feet and genitals and is responsible for 99 per cent of cervical cancers.
Since the cancer diagnosis, Chace has been undergoing an aggressive course of chemotherapy treatment for up to 10 hours a day in Starship hospital in Auckland.