6/26/1973 - 12/16/2016
Brian was the oldest of our three sons. He began having petit mal seizures (head drops) at 9 months old. On the day of his first MMR vaccination, he encountered his first tonic-clonic seizure. It lasted approximately 15 minutes. Until this time, his physical and mental development was normal. After the seizure, his coordination and motor skills declined rapidly. He did develop some speech and comprehension. However, he continued to have seizures of all types that were never controlled.
As parents, we suspected the MMR vaccination was the cause of his seizure disorder and brain damage. Doctors would not confirm or deny our suspicions until we moved to a new state when Brian was 13 years old. His new neurologist suspected, as we did, that the vaccination caused encephalitis, which went untreated and likely resulted in brain damage causing uncontrolled seizures and developmental disabilities. During this time in the mid-1980’s, the US Government allowed families who suspected their child was harmed by the MMR vaccination to petition the Federal government for monetary compensation. During Brian’s hearing in Federal court, a Pediatric Neurologist testified, as an expert witness on behalf of the US government, that Brian likely suffered from Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome, rather than being harmed by the MMR vaccination. This was the first time we had heard of LGS and its devastating affects on children.
Despite his many disabilities and seizures, Brian always maintained a positive attitude and had a smile and hug for everyone. He graduated from high school in a special education program. After graduation, we became aware that he wanted to have his own friends and more independence. As a result, Brian moved into a group home when he was 20 years old and quickly flourished by developing relationships with his new house mates. After 9 years, his drive for increased independence continued. He moved from the group home into his own apartment setting shared by two of his friends. Several years later, his residential journey continued as Brian became the first Habitat for Humanity homeowner in Central Indiana with two unrelated roommates. This was one of his proudest moments.
Like most LGS warriors, Brian endured countless medication changes, emergency room visits, VNS battery changes and seizure related scars. By the age of 43, Brian’s physical body was exhausted, but his smile never vanished. He departed to his heavenly home in December, 2016. He will always be with us in spirit as a role model for courage, love and friendship.
Brian loved to sing in the car. As soon he got in the car he would begin singing “This Little Light of Mine” or any song by the Beach Boys. Our car had a complete library of Beach Boy CDs.