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To Matthew on your 5th Birthday

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Hi Son,

Well, it’s been 5 whole years since we met and so abruptly had to say goodbye. And even though you have not physically been here with us, what a profound impact you have had on our lives.Your brothers and sisters, even though they’ve never met you live every day with you as a very real part of their lives.

As I think about how we SHOULD be preparing for your 5th birthday, I imagine a little boy beaming as he approaches every person he meets, holding out 5 fingers and announcing to the world “I’m five years old!” I imagine you being underfoot and getting into whatever surprises we have in store for you. I imagine a birthday cake with 4 smoldering candles and one still aflame with your older sisters pestering you about having a girlfriend…..that’s a wonderful image.

Sadly, we don’t get that with you. Instead we will try our best as a family to commemorate your day. We’ll take the time to enjoy each other’s company. We’ll take your baby sister for her first swim at the pool, perhaps watch a Disney movie on the big screen, Ice Cream cake for the birthday boy, and if mommy’s up to it, we may even take in a Merritt Centennials game. We will do all these things out of an unquenchable love for you, and with good measure of sadness in our hearts that we do not get to celebrate with you.

It’s been five years since we had to let you go, seems like an eternity already. I can only imagine that the years to come will likewise feel like an eternity, until that glorious day when we are all reunited in the presence of our Heavenly Father.

I don’t know if any of this will ever make sense. But in your very short life, you have touched so many other lives, and arguably saved countless more. Today is a bittersweet day, as I received word from our lawyers that a lawsuit was filed on your behalf today to try and get the justice you deserve. This is everything that we have been fighting for for 5 years, and I hope that you are proud of us for fighting for you.

 Please watch over us dear Matthew, especially your little brother Daniel and baby sister Olivia. 

Happy Birthday in Heaven son.

Daddy.

February 21, 2014 at 7:25 am 1 comment

Making a difference

A huge shout out to our dear friend Christian Delahunty, Indiana’s mom. Indiana is another dear, sweet angel who was taken from this world because of the lies perpetrated by an industry whose sole interest is making money at all cost.

It is nice to be reminded that we are not the only ones fighting to stop the madness of overmedicating women before, during and post pregnancy. These good folks are just one example of the great people fighting the good fight with us.

I have been extremely fortunate to meet with Michael Baum and his expert team in L.A. and Washington, DC, and I must say that they truly care about the willful damage being done to children and their families

http://www.antidepressantbirthdefects.com/read-real-antidepressant-stories.php

Many of you who visit this page know our story, and have shared your story with us. Please, even if you have shared your story about how your life has been affected by these toxic pharmaceuticals, I welcome you to share your details on the contact form below. Who knows, this may develop into a book or something someday.

November 5, 2013 at 7:07 pm Leave a comment

Pregnancy and Pills – BBC Panorama

October 16, 2013 at 6:48 am Leave a comment

http://leoniefennell.wordpress.com/2013/01/06/karolinska-gsk-lundbeck-ssri-birth-defect/

January 6, 2013 at 10:36 pm Leave a comment

Happy 3rd Birthday Son

Happy Birthday Matthew. I can’t believe that it is almost 3 years to the minute since we said goodbye. We barely even got to say Hello. 3 years and it feels like just yesterday. 3 years and it feels like an eternity sometimes as well. Every year, every day is a stark reminder of what we will never get with you. This is your 3rd Birthday. What will your 13th or your 30th be like?

This is not natural son. Mommy and I are not supposed to be celebrating your birthday without you. 3 is that age where kids really start to understand the magic of a Birthday Party. I hope you can see it. We’ve got balloons, decorations, even a Dairy Queen Ice Cream Cake picked out just for you. You would love it so much. It’s a really special day this year. Your baby brother Daniel will get to destroy a piece of your Birthday cake.

We’re working on change son. Just this past week we met some of the great people that have helped us to get your story told. Each one of them is a hero of mine in their own right. Yes, because they are fighting to help us make sure this doesn’t happen to other families, but more so because they remember you by name and you are important to them as well. It is that remembrance that keeps you alive.

3 years and still nothing major has changed though son. Sure they’re talking about implementing change, but until that happens, other babies and their mommies are in danger just like you.

Not a day goes by that I don’t ache to hold you once more. That day will come again. But we still have lots of work to do here, okay. I will never stop loving you. I will never stop missing you.

All my love,

 

Daddy

February 21, 2012 at 7:37 am 1 comment

Changes, they are a comin’!

If only the title of this blog were a true indication of how I am feeling about the latest developments in Matthew’s case and with psychotropic medication prescribing in general.

Certainly we are making progress; if you can call a cautionary position statement being issued by the Canadian Pediatric Society, after having Health Canada warnings around for over half a decade progress. The position statement can be found here: http://www.cps.ca/english/statements/FN/fn11-02.htm

Experts in the fields of neo-natology and drug exposure during pregnancy have been advocating for over a decade that babies exposed to SSRI’s and SNRI’s must be monitored for adverse events at birth. Even the drug company shill Gideon Koren at the Motherisk Program in Toronto has gone on record as far back as 2008 saying that we should at least be monitoring babies exposed to antidepressant drugs. So, the position statement being issued by the Canadian Pediatric Society is best summed up in the words of our good friend and ally Barbara Mintzes from the Therapeutics Initiative at the University of British Columbia. She stated the following to me after reading it:

I just looked at the CPS position statement and agree that this is bad advice – essentially supports SSRI use in pregnancy. For paroxetine the only recommendation is lowering the dose or maybe switching antidepressants. All of the evidence on harm from SSRI use in pregnancy is treated with a heavy dose of doubt, concern about methods etc., but the benefits of antidepressants in pregnancy are taken at face value. I didn’t see any recommendation for first-line use of non-drug treatments in pregnancy, for example, and SSRIs are seen as necessary for ‘moderate to severe depression’ despite their poor record of effectiveness.  There are no direct recommendations to avoid antidepressant use if possible, to look at other options.

I and most others not on a drug company payroll would tend to concur, Barbara. What the CPS position statement fails to mention is that each of the authors of said statement either have pharmaceutical company conflicts or are heavily influenced by those that do. You can look it up for yourself.

As it has been quite some time since I last blogged, we have had some very exciting developments happen as of late. Recently we have had a wonderful woman come in to our lives, Dr. Gerarda Cronin. She is the new Medical Director for Perinatal and Child Health for the Interior Health Authority of BC. Apparently, her job was created in the wake of Matthew’s death, and we are extremely grateful for her. In her capacity as the Regional Medical Director, Dr. Cronin also has a considerable amount of influence with not only Provincial Health standards, but also those at a national level as well.

This past week, Dr. Cronin forwarded to me the following edict from Perinatal Services BC. I take great pride knowing that it has been our hard work and diligence and the media pressure that has been continually applied by our good friends locally as well as at a national level by the CBC, that indeed is causing the necessary governmental bodies to act.

As the advisory states, we have been asked to be part of the Provincial working group that it alludes to. I guess these people understand that we won’t be silenced and that we in fact have some important things to say.

I have come to a stark realization this past week, that we in fact are treading on uncharted ground. If I am not mistaken, no jurisdiction in North America, perhaps even the world, has taken steps to formally address the dangers that psychotropic drugs pose to developing and newborn babies. If we are remembered for nothing else, and if Matthew is remembered for nothing else, his life was lost so that countless others may be saved. Although the pain can be unbearable at times, we know our angel is cheering us on. We will not be silenced, we will not give up.

November 28, 2011 at 12:21 am Leave a comment

Under Pressure

The following is an email that I received the day before our story ran in the paper.

Good afternoon Mr. Schultz:

Thank you for taking the time to return my call this afternoon.

As I mentioned, your letter to the Honourable Christy Clark makes reference to your correspondence to Ms. Lapointe dated on or around May 20, 2011.  I was away from the office at this time and I would greatly appreciate it if you could e-mail me a copy of this correspondence.  I do apologize for any inconvenience this may cause you but I am very appreciative of your help.  I understand you are away at the moment and I look forward to receiving your e-mail at your earliest opportunity.

Kind regards,

Claire

 

Claire R. Leek | Executive Administrative Assistant to the Chief Coroner

Metrotower II, Suite 800 – 4720 Kingsway, Burnaby BC  V5H 4N2
Phone: (604) 660-8219 | Blackberry: (604) 992-9323 | FAX: (604) 660-7766

 http://www.pssg.gov.bc.ca/coroners

 

 What does this mean exactly? Did someone actually receive my letter or not? It’s interesting how the Coroner’s Secretary says,”I was away from the office at this time”. Sounds to me like a nice way to say we lost your letter and nobody is going to ever accept responsibility for it.

Then our story hit the paper and the TV and what do you know? I recieved the next email from the Coroner’s office.

Good afternoon Mr. Schultz:

 Please accept my apologies for the delay in replying to your e-mail dated August 2, 2011.  I have spoken with my colleague, Ms. Kellie Kilpatrick, Director of the Child Death Review Unit and sought the information you requested.  Kellie has asked me to share the following with you.

 The child death review methodology includes the following:

  • The case reviewer examines the Coroner’s file;
  • She determines if there is additional information that may inform the review – this may require seizing records and files held by other agencies;
  • In most cases, a letter is sent to parents advising of the review, explaining what it means, how their child’s information will be used, and inviting them to participate in sharing their perspective, experiences, concerns, and helping us understand who their child was in life;
  • All child deaths are then presented and reviewed by the CDRU multi-disciplinary team;
  • Protective factors, risk factors and other observations are considered and a determination is made re: preventability;
  • Recommendations are researched, considered and made to improve the health and well-being of children.

Matthew’s case was assigned to Paediatric Medical Case Reviewer Tansey Ramanzin and her initial review was completed on June 3.  Matthew’s case has been identified as one where a letter will be sent to you.  You will likely receive the letter next week.

Should you choose to meet with Tansey it is possible to meet in person (on the lower mainland), talk on the phone or correspond in writing – this will be dependent upon your wishes. Many of our courageous parents share what they have learned and their views on prevention with the hope that other families do not have to experience the unthinkable  – the loss of their child.  

Matthew’s death is scheduled for review by the multi-disciplinary team on September 20, 2011. The deliberations of the multi-disciplinary team are protected under the legislation but any action items or recommendations arising would be shared with you.

Kellie has also asked that I extend the deepest condolences of her Unit to you and Matthew’s family.

I hope you find this information useful Mr. Schultz. 

Yours truly,

Claire

 

Claire R. Leek | Executive Administrative Assistant to the Chief Coroner

Metrotower II, Suite 800 – 4720 Kingsway, Burnaby BC  V5H 4N2
Phone: (604) 660-8219 | Blackberry: (604) 992-9323 | FAX: (604) 660-7766

 http://www.pssg.gov.bc.ca/coroners

Amazing how people are moved to action when the media is breathing down their neck. Two dead babies whose parents are screaming for justice; Who gives a shit?  Media discussing how inept your Ministry is; We’ll move you to the front of the line Mr. and Mrs. Schultz.

The Child Death Review Unit is just not good enough though. I have little faith that they are anymore than a simple extension of the rest of the bumbling Coroner’s Service. We’re not even allowed to sit in on the deliberations. Why? Are you afraid that I may call you all fucking idiots?

So, Since the Chief Coroner’s Office lost my original request for a Jury Inquest, I obligingly sent a revamped, updated version of it to Chief Coroner Lapointe’s attention. Here it is in its entirety.

1959 Sage Place

Merritt, BC  V1K 1G2

 

 August 5th, 2011                                        

 

 

Lisa Lapointe, Chief Coroner

Metrotower II Suite 800 – 4720 Kingsway

Burnaby, B.C. V5H 4N2

Dear Lisa;                                

On February 21, 2009, our son Matthew was born and died at Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops, BC. At the time, we were left in utter shock as to what had transpired, and today we are still as shocked by how ineffectual and apathetic the BC Coroner’s Service has been with handling our case.

Beginning on the morning of Matthew’s death we have encountered ignorance, unprofessionalism, complacency and at times, utter incompetence in dealing with various members of the Coroner’s Service. Although I understand a good, thorough investigation can take time, I find it absolutely inexcusable that the investigation of Matthew’s death took 2 years to the day for Dr. Robert Saunders to issue his “Final Report”. Yes, we were issued the final report on his 2nd birthday/anniversary of his death. The irony was not lost on us.

The findings of this “exhaustive” investigation were lackluster at best. Although much information was shared with the various investigators involved with our case, each and every concern that was brought up was categorically discounted. Coroner Saunders relied heavily, almost exclusively on the medical opinion of Dr. Tim Oberlander, Professor of Developmental Pediatrics at UBC. Dr. Oberlander’s report is full of factual inaccuracies and even outright fallacy. One of the very bold statements that he made when reporting to Coroner Saunders was, “To date there have been no reported cases of SIDS following prenatal SRI exposure.” This statement in and of itself indicates to me that there was never any investigation done. Dr. Oberlander is a Clinical Researcher by profession, and yet I, as a layperson without any university education whatsoever, was able to find at least 3 cases on the Health Canada MedEffect Database, and no less than 8 cases on the US FDA equivalent, in about 20 minutes using my home computer.

Tim Oberlander seemed to be very understanding at the outset of our journey, even stating that he would be making recommendations about newborn monitoring after exposure to these drugs. By the end of the investigation he was singing a very different tune. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that the very agencies that Dr. Oberlander works at, the Child and Family Research Institute at BC Children’s Hospital as well as UBC, receive heavy funding from Pfizer, the manufacturers of the drug Effexor which he was investigating. In fact, in December 2009, Pfizer made an extremely generous funding announcement of $9 Million to these agencies. I would never be able to prove it, but that certainly would be enough money to compel him to silence. Regardless, it represents a huge conflict of interest.

It was this discounting of evidence, incompetence of investigation and failure to make any recommendations that spurned me to request a formal inquest into Matthew’s death. This was done in the form of a letter sent to your office on or about May 20, 2011.

There were numerous aggravating factors that contributed to Matthew’s death. Any one of these factors by themselves should warrant a recommendation from a body whose mandate is to make “recommendations to improve public safety and prevent death in similar circumstances.” (emphasis added)

Officially, Coroner Saunders would like Matthew’s death to forever be enshrined in history as “consistent with a finding of SIDS” and “Natural”. However, there are a multitude of issues that render those findings obsolete. Some of those being:

–         Matthew’s exposure to the antidepressant Effexor which has a well known risk of adverse reactions in the neonatal period.

–         The narcotic Fentanyl was administered to my wife within 45 minutes of  delivery.

–         Failure to have a clear, well established protocol for administration of Fentanyl in Labour and Delivery unlike other jurisdictions in Canada, such as that from Nova Scotia found here: http://rcp.nshealth.ca/sites/default/files/clinical-practice-guidelines/fentanyl.pdf

This protocol states in unequivocal terms the following:

Neonates who DO NOT require naloxone at birth, but whose mothers receive

Fentanyl within four hours of delivery, must be observed for at least TWO hours post delivery in labour and delivery. (emphasis is from original protocol)

–         Failure to have a clear, well established protocol for monitoring of newborns exposed to psychotropic medications, like those set out in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology Canada in April 2009 and other publications.

–          Both Effexor and Fentanyl use the same CYP450 enzyme pathways to metabolize and would definitely interact with each other, as well as previous codeine exposure. Although genetic testing for polymorphisms of these enzymes in both Matthew and my wife Christiane were recommended very early on, they were never completed and I demand that they do be completed.

–         Toxicology results were requested by myself, especially for Fenatnyl and those have never been forwarded to me, although I received the assertion they would be. If I am not mistaken a urine sample should have also been collected from Matthew and frozen. I would also like to have a complete toxicology done on this sample including for Fentanyl.

–         Histological findings on Matthew’s autopsy were consistent with a diagnosis of Pulmonary Hypertension. Gail Holotuk argued with me that that was not the case. In the pathology report, Matthew’s lungs had “marked capillary congestion”. This is consistent with a diagnosis of Pulmonary Hypertension and I have the literature to prove it.

–         Misdiagnosis and discounting of obvious respiratory distress.

–         Matthew’s brain cell growth anomaly that is a confirmation of previous findings in rat models exposed to these drugs.

–         Understaffing on the maternity ward.

–         Repeated failure of hospital staff to listen to patient concerns.

–         Similar neonatal issues with 3 of our previous children exposed to the medication Effexor. Our 7 year old have been born 5 pounds at full term and suffering from Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension himself. To this day he still has autonomic regulatory issues.

–         Health Canada warnings issued in 2004 and 2006 regarding the potential for adverse reactions in newborns from all SSRI/SNRI medications that never made it to doctor’s hands. Effexor was not even listed as a risk factor in Matthew’s birth record, although it had been for some of our previous children.

As I stated already, any single one of these issues could have and should have resulted in the Coroner issuing a recommendation to prevent a tragedy like this from happening to another family. The pathologist who performed Matthew’s autopsy at BC Children’s Hospital, Dr. Angelica Oviedo, rendered the opinion that Effexor was likely the cause of Matthew’s death. In fact she felt so strongly about this that she made a report to Health Canada’s Canada Vigilance Adverse Reaction Online Database. In comments made to me in July 2010, shortly before the addendum was issued to Matthew’s autopsy, she told me, “His lungs didn’t make the switch.” Meaning that he was still suffering from what she referred to as “Persistent Fetal Circulation” or as is commonly referred Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension.

Yet, Coroner Saunders has chosen to do nothing. And the result of this has been another baby dying under very similar circumstances, the mother having dealt with the same hospital, same doctors, and same medication even. Alas, these are not isolated incidents; but for now I do not need to speak of the other cases I know of.

Greyson Rawkins, whose mother Nicole Rawkins also took this drug in a much higher dose throughout nursing and pregnancy, was born in January 2011 at Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops, BC as well. Your office is also investigating his death. At present his brain is also being examined for anomalies, and I am quite optimistic that a similar anomaly will be found with his brain. Something I have found very interesting, is the fact that in Greyson’s case his cause of death was deemed UNDETERMINED although there is compelling published evidence that even exposure to Effexor via breastmilk is highly toxic to a baby and can cause serious respiratory distress. Yet in Matthew’s case, his death was deemed NATURAL. Is it really the position of the BC Coroner’s Service that it is perfectly natural for a 2 hour old baby to die in a hospital setting? Especially after the family fought with hospital staff over his color and breathing difficulty, only to be downplayed and at one point kicked back in our room because we were “disturbing other patients”. Especially after being exposed to not one, but two medications that have the very common side effect of causing respiratory distress in newborns.

Successive coroners failed to listen to us. Matthew was in distress immediately at birth, and he was until he died. We fought with Dr. Poelzer and the nursing staff over this. Yet this fact was continually ignored by Coroners Holotuk and Saunders even in to the final Coroner’s Report.  We have pictures that show his cyanosis and how briefly after he received 100% oxygen his color pinked up a little, yet we were continually told that he had facial bruising and that his symptoms were normal. I guess death is normal as well. No one from the Coroner’s Service has ever looked at these pictures.

In April 2009 when speaking with Gail Holotuk via telephone, I had a heated exchange with her over the fact that we argued with hospital staff over Matthew’s breathing. This telephone conversation culminated in her saying to me, and I quote, “Why didn’t you say something about his breathing?” I was floored. Not only had I told her on numerous occasions that we were complaining about Matthew’s breathing, the tone of her voice was shifting blame to me. I called her a stupid bitch and hung up the phone. Dr. Oviedo the pathologist gave heed to these concerns somewhat and issued the autopsy addendum in July 2010. But it still seems that respiratory distress was not an objective finding of any coroner investigating Matthew’s death.

Effexor or venlafaxine as it is generically called is a drug known as an SNRI (serotonin and norepinepherine reuptake inhibitor) which falls into the class of drug known popularly as antidepressants. Chemically, these drugs are not dissimilar from amphetamines or cocaine. Although the prescribing of antidepressant medications during pregnancy is not an indicated use, pregnant women are increasingly marketed to, and estimates put the number of women taking these drugs during pregnancy around 15-20%.

There is compelling evidence available that these drugs should not be prescribed to pregnant women. The strongest example of this was compiled in a study published January 2010, entitled “Are antidepressants safe in pregnancy? A focus on SSRIs”.  This study was compiled by the Therapeutics Initiative at the University of British Columbia and states clearly when specifically discussing the prescribing of antidepressants in pregnancy, the harms exceed the benefits in this setting”.  Again, it would seem the BC Coroner’s Service chooses to ignore information like this.

 

There are several things that I am seeking from you in your capacity of Chief Coroner. Firstly, based on the shortcomings, errors and even apparent conflict of interest on the part of the main expert consulted, I am seeking to have this case reopened and that a formal inquest be held. There is overwhelming evidence that Matthew’s death should be listed as ACCIDENTAL, and I am seeking that this be changed from the present finding of NATURAL.

Secondly, the genetic testing previously mentioned that has never been carried out. I request a full screen of all CYP450 enzymes on Matthew’s blood as well as my wife Christiane. This must be done, and I am well within my rights demanding it, as it was something we were told was going to be done. This is vital to the health of any of our children as well as pinpointing the causes of Matthew’s death.

At this time, as I have a need to consult with experts outside the sphere of influence of the BC Coroner’s Service, I would also request copies of any and all files related to the investigation of Matthew’s death. This would include test results, interviews, investigative notes, pictures (as graphic as they might be) etc. as well as an inventory of any biological samples of Matthew’s that might still be in the possession of the BC Coroner’s Service or any other agency .

I look forward to your response.

Sincerely and respectfully.

 

 Amery Schultz

1959 Sage Place

Merritt, BC V1K 1G2

250-315-5632  email: amery_s@telus.net

So,  after sending this email, I again receive an email from the Chief Coroner’s Secretary.

Good afternoon Mr. Schultz:

Thank you for your e-mail and attached letter to Chief Coroner Lapointe.  Chief Coroner Lapointe will respond to you in full in due course.

Yours truly,

Claire

 

Claire R. Leek | Executive Administrative Assistant to the Chief Coroner

Metrotower II, Suite 800 – 4720 Kingsway, Burnaby BC  V5H 4N2
Phone: (604) 660-8219 | Blackberry: (604) 992-9323 | FAX: (604) 660-7766

http://www.pssg.gov.bc.ca/coroners

 

She’s going to “respond to me in full in due course.”

WHAT THE HELL DOES THAT MEAN?!?!?!

Tomorrow? Next week? Next month? When she’s met with the Coroner’s who botched Matthew’s case and can formulate a good enough bullshit excuse as to why they don’t need to reopen the investigation?

The evidence seems pretty strong to me that Effexor by itself or in combination with Fentanyl caused Matthew’s oh so evident Respiratory Distress, that nobody seems to have a recollection of other than us, his parents.

Matthew’s death was not natural. Plain and simple. Any one of the points that I list in my most recent letter to the Chief Coroner confirms that statement.

 

August 9, 2011 at 9:11 am Leave a comment

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