Late last week, someone calling themselves “where are the facts” left a comment on my post about the Channel 7 story, asking some very anti-vax-like questions about the death of Dana McCaffery.

You know the type;

“Was Dana a premature baby? Was Dana breastfed? As a baby suposedly (sic) receives antibodies from the mum in the first eight weeks of life. Did Dana receive the Hepatitus (sic) B injection? Did Dana receive the Vitamin K injection? Did Dana have any reactions to these injections? Was Dana on any medication, etc?.”

Thereby, strongly inferring that pertussis, or whooping cough was not the cause of Dana’s death. I find this highly offensive and told @watf as much.

These type of questions were part of the reason why Toni and David McCaffery spoke out in the first place. They were appalled that the AVN, and in particular Meryl Dorey, were suggesting that the official cause of death (according to the Dept. of Health) as pertussis, was simply a plot by authorities and government to force people to get vaccinated.

But, as we have come to expect with the AVN, just about everything that involves conventional medicine is deemed a conspiracy of some sort; Big Pharma is only interested in money and not our health; they want to keep us sick to make more money; vaccines have never been tested, vaccination causes disease, etc etc. These are the kind of people who wouldn’t surprise you if they told you that the world is flat, the Holocaust didn’t happen and that 911 was a government/inside job.

But, this post was so offensive, Toni McCaffery decided she had well and truly had enough of the misinformation, half-truths and outright lies spread by these people. She responded to @watf to tell them precisely that, the facts.

I am amazed by the strength and resolve of Toni McCaffery at a time like this.  But, as she says below, she has had enough of the AVN and associated cronies and their nasty intent to somehow prove that pertussis was not the cause of Dana’s death.

It was. It’s that simple. Pertussis can be deadly, for every 1 in 200 children. Three babies have died from infections in Australia this year.

Wake up anti-vaxers. And learn some respect.

Toni’s comment is re-posted below, with her permission. You can see the entire comments thread here.


@where are the facts

Where is your sense of human decency? Your comments are the most hateful and hurtful words that any grieving parent could read.

As Dana’s parents, we are absolutely outraged that groups such as the AVN are intent on proving that Pertussis did not kill her and is not dangerous. We expected opposition to vaccination, but it is unacceptable and despicable that we have to ‘prove’ that Pertussis killed her. Haven’t we suffered enough – now we have to defend the very thing that killed her.

We are outraged that without our knowledge, Meryl Dorey rang the Director of the NCAHS Public Health Unit on 12 March seeking details on Dana’s death and contended the department had misled the public.

Even after I told Meryl what happened to Dana at the debate, a few weeks afterwards I found an AVN blog with members making false claims that stated they had information she was sick from birth, immune-compromised from the HiB vaccine or died as a result of the antibiotics or medical treatment she received.

Not only is no-one privy to this information, it is wrong and extremely distressing. In the latest Living Wisdom, Meryl got every fact wrong about Dana – her age, when she died, where she might have caught it, when the last death was and uses language to downplay the seriousness.

I am pleading with the AVN to leave my beautiful daughter alone and stop this misleading chatter. And I plead to other parents, please do not expose your child to this dangerous disease.

Don’t you think as Dana’s parents, watching every agonising moment of her death, we would know what killed her. We undertook extensive research and spoke with the specialists over several weeks to understand what happened.

Let me be very clear. She was born in perfect health, was breastfed and was putting on weight. Nothing is sacred. We decided to speak out after reading comments in media and blog sites that dismissed the severity of whooping cough, claims of ‘only one baby’, criticisms that we had not acted quickly and that I had not passed on immunity to Dana through breastfeeding.

Reading this blog is almost too much to bear!

Let me be very, very clear – Pertussis can and does kill 1 in 200 babies. Sadly, THREE babies have died in Australia this year – we are the only family to go public and I wouldn’t recommend it. If your baby is ‘the one’ – it is unstoppable.

The intensive care experts were in contact with experts all around the world and tried everything. I stood and watched them try to save her and did the unthinkable and wished she had cancer instead, because maybe then she would have had a chance.

Meryl might call what we have done a fear campaign. We call it a reality check. We only wished someone had warned us of the epidemic as we would have done everything in our power to protect Dana from catching it.

We saw the healthiest, most beautiful baby suffer the most agonising death – and there was nothing we could do.

We will not stand by and let this happen to another family.

Please STOP DEBATING our daughter’s death. Show some respect and leave Dana in peace. We are so sorry we have exposed our beautiful girl to such hurtful people.

Please note: Comment threads that are deemed offensive, at the discretion of the author, will be removed from this post out of respect. Comments are now closed.

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Comments ( 15 )

[…] see how utterly offensive the AVN and antivax crowd can be, please visit these sites: post by Dr Rachie and about the Ch7 Sunday […]

SCAM Blasting! » The Oz Anti-Vax saga added these pithy words on Jul 10 09 at 22:12

[…] people will sink to, then please read this comment, which was left on my blog in response to a post by Toni McCaffery, the mother of Dana who died from whooping cough at 4 weeks of age, some 6 months […]

» Vaccine fear campaign to be investigated added these pithy words on Aug 16 09 at 01:22

[…] this morning on the radio and it broke my heart… An open letter from Toni and David McCaffery Toni McCaffery has had enough. there seems to be alot of talk about vaccination lately and for/against arguements. i don't know […]

whooping cough death - birthtalks ® added these pithy words on Jul 28 10 at 13:48

Truly, this brings tears to my eyes. No words can describe how despicable it is to write hurtful lies about a baby that has died. Just no words…

Dianne added these pithy words on Jun 18 09 at 18:31


Reading this, I just have to say that your strength during this painful time is absolutely amazing and incredibly admirable. You are an inspiration, and anyone out there that wishes to attack your stance on vaccination, or implies that your grief is misplaced or even invalid, should be ashamed of themselves and what they represent.

I have a three-week old nephew, and he recently had his first Hep-B vaccination. His mother told me that it was the information brought to light by your speaking out about beautiful Dana’s death that made her determined to vaccinate her son. Thank you for your strength and resilience in the face of such cowardly opposition.


Anneke added these pithy words on Jun 18 09 at 18:39

Let’s face it:
The AVN and their enablers are common criminals, inciting, aiding and abetting infant manslaughter.
There are no clearer words in which I can term this inhuman travesty by these heartless bastards.
So sue me.
My kudos to the McCafferys, and my spiteful venom upon the vile delusional demented Meryl Dorey.

The world has had enough of such insane deadly reality deniers, and is ready to foment revolution against these frightfully destructive lying bastards.

There, I have expressed it for those of you who are justifiably afraid to express the truth for fear of litigation or retribution.
(The McCafferys, as well as Simon Singh is on my list of all-time heroes in confronting lethal superstition.)

-Michael Gray, BSc, MACS, MRSA

Michael Kingsford Gray added these pithy words on Jun 18 09 at 20:59

To the McCaffery family:

Your case is known here in Europe and for myself i can only send you my deep sympathies and let you know that what you are doing is *beyond* brave.

The anti-vaccination loons must be stopped, everywhere in the world, and your tragic story must be read as a cautionary tale. Thank you again for your bravery and commitment. I can barely imagine what a devastating feeling it must be, to lose a child 🙁

Warmest hug from Portugal,

pedro homero added these pithy words on Jun 18 09 at 21:34

To Toni & David and the McCaffery family,
I have followed your and Dana’s story since it came to light on the original Channel 7 report, which you so bravely participated in. The strength you have shown in facing such deplorable individuals so soon after losing Dana is heart wrenching. I support your view that this is not a fight you should have to undertake. We need government and health organisations to put in place the education campaigns and resources to counter the misinformation being spread by the AVN and similar groups.

Wishing you my deepest condolences and sincere admiration for the bravery you have shown in sharing your story with us at such a difficult time for you.

Joanne added these pithy words on Jun 18 09 at 23:40


well said.

Grendel added these pithy words on Jun 19 09 at 00:44

When I read Toni’s comment yesterday I took her request to stop the debating to apply to both sides. Though I’m certain she would want the anti-vaxxers silenced, I could also fully understand, from her whole comment, if she wants any mention of Dana to just stop.

AndyD added these pithy words on Jun 19 09 at 04:25

Thank you Toni and David for your incredible bravery in standing up and speaking out against these people. You really are helping to contribute towards making sure that no more parents or children have to suffer through what you’ve been through. Thank you so much.

Luke Weston added these pithy words on Jun 19 09 at 19:35

@Toni: the fact that you and your husband have had the courage and strength at this time to face these nasty people is incredible. Your loss is terrible. You should not have had to experience this. I hope you are comforted by the fact that people all over the world (I’m in the USA) admire you and sympathize greatly with your loss.

Dawn added these pithy words on Jun 19 09 at 22:38

Toni, Thank you for sharing your story and refuting the blatant lies and misinformation. As a health professional, I am acutely aware of the risks of not immunising a child and if your campaign prevents even one unnecessary death it is well worthwhile.

Marian Rigney added these pithy words on Jul 18 09 at 18:23

Meryl Dorey of the Anti vaccine group is a septic tank {Yank] who comes from a country who have failed with their own health system.
She comes from the same missinformed lot who also oppose Fluoride, Re- claimed water, and probably the flat earth society.
Revoke her Visa, send her back to the largest mental institute in the world which is run by the inmates.

Alan Vinten. added these pithy words on Jul 20 09 at 10:33

@Alan: bringing up the fact of that Meryl Dorey is originally American (she could very well have Australian citizenship now, I don’t know), and in such offensive terms, does nothing to further the cause that the McCaffery’s and Dr. Rachie are trying to promote. She’s obviously found a few like minded people here in Australia, which goes to show that ignorance and scaremongering is a human condition, not just an American one.

Mooselet added these pithy words on Jul 21 09 at 07:34