- Lucy Hinks is unable to walk or talk after having injections at school
- Parents warn others to check on potential side effects of Cervarix vaccine
A schoolgirl has been left in a 'waking coma', too exhausted to open her eyes or speak, after having a cervical cancer vaccine.
By Christmas, she had visited the doctor several times with flu-like symptoms, tiredness and joint pain.
After the third injection of the vaccine, in May this year, Lucy began to experience extreme exhaustion.
Her health has now deteriorated to such an extent that for the past seven weeks she has slept for up to 23 hours day.
Lucy is also unable to walk or even talk to her devastated family.
Today, her mother Pauline and father Steve, who works for Pirelli, reveal the stress their family is enduring and their fears that it could be years before she recovers.
They now care for Lucy - who has lost nearly three stone - around the clock and describe their lives as a 'living nightmare'.
The couple, from Port Carlisle, Cumbria, are urging parents to find out about the potential side effects of the vaccine, Cervarix.
Their warning comes as thousands of year eight pupils prepare to receive the vaccine in schools.
Mrs Hinks said: 'I would not wish what we've been through on anyone.
'I've not seen the whites of Lucy's eyes for weeks and nobody can tell us when it will turn.
'I would urge parents to get all the facts, gather as much information as you can. Decide for yourself if it's right for your child.'
Source: Daily Mail Online.
She added: 'I could put up with the constant sleep. I believe her body needs it.
'But it's the fact that to me she's in a waking coma, with no treatment.
'At first we didn't pay any major attention to it. We were only aware there was something seriously wrong this July.'
Lucy, a bright scholar at Nelson Tomlinson School with a gift for maths, had her third and final instalment of the vaccine in May.
Soon afterwards, she started displaying signs of exhaustion.
'Then she got up one weekend,' said Mrs Hinks. 'She shouted for me, she was too exhausted to stand.'
Initially, Lucy's GP found her spleen and liver were enlarged. Then, after the teenager collapsed in the doctor's waiting room, she was taken to Carlisle's Cumberland Infirmary.
She was submitted to a barrage of tests over the weeks to come, including those for glandular fever and a brain tumour. But these failed to find any cause.
Later in the summer, Lucy was again admitted to hospital. This time she was unable to walk at all.
Mr Hinks said: 'She had been able to limp from the settee to the toilet herself.
'But suddenly she couldn't take a single step. She lost her balance, her arms and legs were failing.
'We got a letter from the consultant at the hospital. It says it's quite possible that this might turn out to be a reaction to the HPV vaccine.'
Lucy's parents now attend her every need and one of them is always nearby.
Mrs Hinks, who gets up to her daughter through the night, said: 'At one stage I thought she was going to die in her sleep.'
Lucy's daily routine begins with a small breakfast of a scone and dried fruit about 9.30am.
'I stroke her face, talk to her,' said her mother. 'Then I pull her up onto pillows. I bring a bowl of water and wash her. She feeds herself her breakfast.
'Slowly, and she never opens her eyes.'
Recently, the family installed a stairlift to take Lucy from her bed to the living room sofa.
'I bring her downstairs because she's part of the family,' said Mrs Hinks. 'I want her down here and hope that subconsciously she can hear something of what's going on.'
They have rigged up an electric bell which Lucy presses when she needs pain relief.
'She can whisper five words,' said Mr Hinks, who uses a microphone to help make out Lucy's barely audible syllables.
'She says "hurting, toilet, tablet, water" and, most of all, "mum".'
Mr and Mrs Hinks spoon feed their daughter her lunch and dinner. Meals must consist of soft food, because chewing takes precious energy.
The couple said doctors are now 95 per cent sure Lucy's diagnosis of ME/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is correct.
She has a nurse who visits weekly and is under the care of a consultant paediatrician at the West Cumberland Hospital in Whitehaven - both of whom the Hinks praise highly.
Mrs Hinks has revisited the decision to allow Lucy to have the vaccine many times.
'I have regrets,' she said. 'But it's no good having them because you can't change what we've got. Hindsight is a marvellous thing.'
According to Lucy's parents, there is no treatment plan as such for CFS/ME and they take each day as it comes, using instinct to determine her needs.
She has now lost nearly three stone in weight and her parents are terrified she may need to be fed through a tube in the future.
The couple are exhausted and heartbroken, though remain pragmatic.
Mrs Hinks is frank: 'We're not launching a campaign. Our only concern is to keep our daughter alive.'
But the pair say they were never given information about any potential side-effects of the vaccine.
At the time Mrs Hinks signed the consent form for Lucy to have the treatment, she raised concerns because Lucy had suffered a reaction to the MMR vaccine in infancy.
'I was told not to worry,' she said.
Though neither has any criticisms of the local vaccination programme, Mr and Mrs Hinks are now urging parents to make sure they have as much information as possible before making a decision.
'Talk to people about it,' said Mrs Hinks. 'You decide, not the Government, whether it's right for your child.
'I accept that out of all the girls in Cumbria in Lucy's year, she might be the only one. But for one child to lose the quality of life she had is one too many.'
Lucy's paediatrician has warned it could be years before she recovers.
'Right now education is irrelevant,' said Mrs Hinks. 'Lucy is not in a situation where she can stay in contact with her friends at all. I worry this will have an impact on her down the line.
'People ask 'how do you cope?' Well, you just have to.'
Mr Hinks copes by trawling the internet for cures. He has found case studies of other girls who are believed to have suffered similar reactions to the vaccine.
The couple were also recently asked to have their other daughter, 12-year-old Emily, vaccinated with Cervarix.
They refused and wrote to the health authority stating their fears.
Last month, Mr Hinks met Cumbria's associate director of public health, Dr Nigel Calvert, and the county's immunisation coordinator, Jane Morphet, to express his concerns.
Ms Morphet has since written to the national director of immunisation, David Salisbury, to ask if there is 'any new evidence of any possible link between the vaccine and CFS/ME'.
A 'yellow card' - a report made to the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency over suspected side effects to drugs or vaccines - has been lodged. And Cervarix manufacturers, GlaxoSmithKline, are aware of the family's concerns.
The Hinks' are now considering taking legal advice. Pauline says: 'How does she cope after our day? Down the line you never know what you might need to do.'
Despite the circumstances, the Hinks' still believe they are lucky.
Mr Hinks is a health and safety environment manager for Pirelli in Carlisle and his wife manages a sports and social club associated with the plant.
They say the firm has been fantastic and is to help them get a second opinion on Lucy's condition from doctors abroad.
Mr Hinks says: 'We both have jobs, we had to write out the cheque for the stairlift there and then. At least we can do that.'
Each day, the family pray Lucy will begin to respond more and will try anything to raise a tiny smile.
'I've told her that if she can talk to us, she can have a puppy,' said Mrs Hinks.
'Even if she just gave us a glimmer, that would be something.'
A spokeswoman at GlaxoSmithKline said: 'Any suspected adverse reaction related to vaccination can be very distressing and we take these reports very seriously.
'The UK medicines safety agency regularly reviews all reported suspected adverse events and has concluded that no new or serious risks have been identified during use of Cervarix in the UK, and that the balance of benefits and risks remains positive.'
Cumbria's health authority says the cervical cancer jab used to immunise 60,000 girls in the county so far has a 'strong safety record'.
The dangers of the disease were highlighted by the death of reality TV star Jade Goody from cervical cancer.
A spokeswoman for NHS Cumbria said: 'In the UK, about 3,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer every year and about 1,000 die from it.
'The HPV vaccine is designed to help protect young women from developing the human papilloma virus, one of the causes of cervical cancer.
'The vaccine has been rigorously tested and a million doses have now been given in the UK.'
Lucy is not the first to have suffered devastating health effects apparently linked to the injection.
Rachel Attridge, then 17, was unable to move, speak or eat for four months, after she was struck down 18 months ago with Guillain-Barre Syndrome - a rare disease where the body's immune system attacks the nervous system by mistake.
Her doctors told her they were '99.9 per cent sure', the illness had been triggered by the cervical cancer jab.
In one of the most high-profile cases linked to the injection, though, Natalie Morton's death - one hour after being given the jab - was judged to be nothing to do with the immunisation.
The 14-year-old died from an undiagnosed heart tumour.
Source: Daily Mail Online.