David wrote this post for a newspaper. He kindly allowed me to re-post it here.


I’ve lain awake all night in my bed, my mind processing all I heard or wanted to say at the debate. I was ready to speak up at anytime, but wasn’t directly asked a question. (Mind you, my wife was terrific when she spoke. She’s a wonderful, compassionate and intelligent woman.)

So here I go:

My daughter died a horrific death. Moments after she died I held her beaten little body as blood from her double transfusion ran down her arms, onto mine and then the floor. It’s a reality and I ‘know’ it happened.

She died from pertussis, contracted in a region in NSW where 66% of babies are vaccinated. When you combine that with the low adult vaccination rate of 10%(due to people not knowing their booster shots wane after 7 to 10 years), it’s the lowest vaccination rate in Australia, hence one of the most dangerous areas to have a baby.

Dana paid the highest price for our ignorance and apathy.

NSW Health should have proactively alerted the community of outbreaks and precautions to take before it became an epidemic. This requires more than just posters and media releases. We need advertising campaigns supported by vigilant screening, consistent advice from frontline health workers and free boosters for all adults.

However, the efforts of a few are futile. Everyone in our community must work together to increase vaccination rates to protect our most vulnerable.

Please learn from our past. Vaccination was introduced because there is no medicine to stop these bacteria that killed and maimed thousands of children. Now, these third-world diseases are on the rise again. In NSW it is Whooping Cough. In Queensland it is Measles.

Education is the key to saving our babies. You can’t change opinion or inform the community with silence.

Thankfully…hopefully….. that’s all about to change.

I’ll finish with a quote from Queensland Premier Anna Bligh that she made yesterday in a response to the press…..

“As a mother, I strongly believe in vaccination. I also believe that vaccination is a basic parental responsibility and that governments have an equally important role to play in boosting vaccination rates in the community. I support any national moves to improve vaccination rates and have asked my Deputy Premier and Health Minister Paul Lucas to raise this issue at the next Australian Health Ministers Conference in July.”

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  • David, Toni, Cecily: I am so sad for you and I cannot thank you enough for your courage in sharing your stories. As a family doc in Canada, I fight these battles daily and I do use your stories along with the relevant research. Having worked in places where these vaccinations are not nearly so available, my heart hurts whenever I see spoilt parents who do not remember the terror of “before”- before Salk, before tetanus shots, before H.flu vaccination. Sincerely.

  • Cecily Johnson

    David & Toni my heart goes out to you, family & friends on the loss of your beautiful Dana. Sadly I lost my daughter to Measles – so, truly know your heartache. Laine caught measles 6 weeks before she would have had her immunisation. Sadly like you guys I had hate mail & even had death threats for going public!! terrible mail from anti vac mob!!! I support u so much for going public – take care.

  • jeremy

    My parents very nearly had the same experience, but I was lucky – after months in hospital I survived, having stopped breathing due to this horrible disease. AntiVax parents need to be reported to DOCS and have their children removed.

  • Tim Lamb

    David, I would not have the strength to do what are doing, so soon after your tragic loss. You and your wife are amazing. I’m doing what I can in my small little way, and I hope the community support will emerge to get vaccination rates up and stop another such needless tragedy.

  • Todd

    My deepest sympathies David, to you and your family. Your courage in speaking out is very much appreciated.

  • Dr. Heather

    As a parent, I must say how horrified I am to hear of your child’s death. I have watched children die and held them in my arms as they have died. It is so sad to lose a child. But to a preventable disease, that is particularly difficult. Thank you for making this issue more public.

    As a pediatrician, I would like to say to parents out there: make sure you are getting your information from the right sources. Don’t succumb to the belief that there is some conspiracy behind vaccinations. Physicians have always worked for the betterment of your health, private and public. Get your questions answered, feel comfortable with the decisions you are making, but make sure you are basing it on real information, not ‘gut feelings’ or emotions. With all choices with your children. It comes down to this with hats to protect from the sun for children, helmets for bicycle riders, safety belts in the car. We make many difficult decisions for our children, but some of them are just the right ones!

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  • thank you for speaking out, especially now. you’re a good person.

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  • Grendel

    My condolences also – as a parent I can only imagine the grief and horror. But thank you so much for speaking out. Parents need to hear that these preventable diseases are dangerous.

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  • Dearest Dave and Toni, my sincerest condolences and i am so very sorry that you have go through your pain in the public eye but i think you are truly amazing people to have spoken about your loss of Dana. All my love to your family. xox

  • Dianne

    There are simply no words to describe the agonising heartbreak your family has had to go through for something that was preventable. Wishing you and your family all the best and the ability to cope with her devastating loss now and in future.

  • I echo the words of the others here. Sorry for your loss and sorry that you have to speak out so closely to your loss.

  • David: My deepest condolences for your loss. No one should have to go through all that you’ve just been through. And thank you for stepping up and speaking out like you and Toni did. The two of you are incredibly brave and have done wonders (with the help of Channel 7, of course) to educate people and raise awareness about the importance of vaccines. Please take care of yourself and your family.

  • David, not much consolation I imagine but your loss may well end up being the saviour of a great many children. Thank you, both, for telling your story.

  • Dear David, my deepest, deepest sympathy for the loss of your gorgeous daughter. Thank you so much for telling your heart-breaking story in order to raise awareness at such a dreadful time of grief. All my love to you and your family.