Our human skin is the parchment upon which our identity is written; class, race, ethnicity, and gender can be read upon its surface and it is the birthright of all to know one’s identity.
The removal of a baby from its mother tears away that child’s identity and leaves a blank slate upon which sanctity or atrocity can be committed and either will be forever etched into the mind of both the mother and child. Illegal adoptions and the stealing of babies from their mothers, strip away the means by which children see themselves or are viewed by others. As was the case with me, a stolen life will leave behind a distraught mother with an endless longing for her missing child and an abused child, sent into years of slavery and an endless search for his missing mother.
When I reflect that the thieves who stole me (and other illegitimate children and orphans) belong to religious orders, whose aims were twofold - to punish mother and child and to turn a profit while doing so, I must ask, as I have done since my earliest memory, have we forgotten God?
It is a little known fact that pharmaceutical companies paid the Catholic Church to be allowed to run experimental drug trials on the occupants of Mother and Baby Homes and Orphanages in Ireland. These Vaccine Experiments were carried out on thousands of defenceless Babies, Children and new mothers in the many Mother and Baby Homes and Children’s Orphanages throughout Ireland. After all, here were a ready group of helpless children who had no Parents or people to complain to. Some of these experiments, took place in St. Patrick’s Mother and Baby Home, Dublin, where I was born and St Philomena's Home in Stillorgan in Dublin, on children as young as six months old.
The doctors and scientists believed they were serving the greater good of science and the health of society. The Catholic Church believed they were serving the greater good and wealth of the Catholic Church. I was one of the babies experimentally vaccinated in both St Patrick’s Mother and Baby Home and St Philomena’s. I have a medical document that shows I was given two injections of “Live Polio Vaccine” in 1955, one on 18th June when I was just over 12 months old, and the second was given one month later on July 17th. The document further reads “Positive Post Vaccine Test.” Of course I do not remember any of this, but I do have an early memory of the clinical trials I was subjected to that took place when I was about ffive years old and living in St Philomena’s.
I clearly remember being one of a long line of boys wearing only our underpants and standing for hours in a freezing cold corridor. As each child reached the head of the line and was ushered into a room, one of four or five men and women in long white coats would take samples of blood, another would inject the child with a vial of coloured liquid while another would examine the boy.
A few days later I found that a very small, unwrapped chocolate sweet had been placed on my desk and those of some, but not all, of other children in my class. As any kind of sweet was a rarity in an institution where a religious order was in charge and where food was severely rationed in an effort to save costs, I ate the exotic treat without hesitation. As soon as I bit into it, I tasted a bitter liquid at its centre and I immediately spat it out and complained of the nasty taste to the teacher, Sister Kevin. She came by my desk, picked up the ejected chocolate from where it had landed on the floor and gave me another one saying, ‘This one will be better, Patrick.’ I took it suspiciously and put it into my hungry mouth but this time I pretended that I had swallowed the chocolate without biting. Sister Kevin seemed pleased. ‘Oh good boy, Patrick!’ She returned to a large folio open on her desk and made a few notes, but was keenly watching me at the same time. I held the bitter chocolate in my mouth until she looked away; I removed it and put it in my pocket to flush away when I next went to the toilet.
A few hours later a nurse came into our class and called me and a few other boys to be examined in another room. For the next few weeks, chocolates were sporadically placed on my desk, and the probing and note taking also continued. The subsequent sweets all had the bitterness of the first one, but in my hunger I decided to overlook this, rather than forego the pleasure of a morsel of food. As I was only a four year old, I did not know what drug or drugs were being administered to me, but I do know that ever since then, I am highly allergic to any product containing even trace amounts of chocolate.
I have another medical document entitled “Immunisation Against Diphtheria; Date of 1st. Injection 26th October 1954, 2nd Injection 26th January 1955, 3rd Injection 13th. September 1955. Result - Negative.”
I was hospitalised one year after my birth and rushed to another emergency hospital in Dublin, because of the serious adverse reaction to the vaccine that was pumped into my tiny body by the drug company. I have also recently been diagnosed as having had untreated TB as well as deformed organs.
I recovered. I must have had a strong and innate desire to survive, but I couldn't walk until I was four years old. Whatever difficulties I have experienced, however, I consider I got off reasonably lightly given the horrendous and enduring effects suffered by some.
Since their founding, the Mother and Baby Homes and Orphanages of Ireland were run by Orders of nuns and funded by the Irish State and the Catholic Church. The default position of the Sisters with regard to the children and the pre and post- partum unwed women in their putative care, was one of consistent and intentional physical neglect. The nuns viewed their charges as being “fallen women” and “devil’s spawn” and resented the fact that they were a financial burden on the State and the Church. Because the nuns wanted to hoard the funds that they were provided with, they had to stint in the buying of basic medicines or nutritious food - with the result that many of those in their guardianship died of starvation, malnutrition and curable/ preventable diseases.
Then, in the 1940s, drug companies came along waving their cheque books and offering a lucrative source of money for the nuns to spend on providing – no, not better care for their charges – but rather exquisitely embroidered altar linen and fresh cut flowers in crystal vases to set beside the plaster statues of those perennial symbols of perfection in Mother and Child imagery - the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Baby Jesus.
In exchange for their cash, the pharmaceutical companies would gain unrestricted access to a ready supply of human, non-consenting guinea pigs on which to experiment viz. the pregnant and newly-delivered mothers and the babies and children they were forced to leave behind when they returned to the cruel, judgmental world of Catholic Ireland or a lifetime of incarceration and slavery in a Magdalene Laundry.
Of course the drug companies did need State approval for the monstrous trials they were proposing to embark on - but that was readily given, and no guidelines as to accountability or the safety of the protocols were imposed. After all, Church, State, and Big Business were united in their view that the unwitting women and children who were the subjects of the experiments were, in the words governing the philosophy of the Third Reich that led to the extermination of millions, "Life Unworthy of Life”.
While many of the records were kept secret and later destroyed on instructions issued after a secret meeting of the Irish Catholic Bishops of Ireland in 2005, it is known that the doctors who did the experiments were very enthusiastic about them. One of the lead doctors wrote at the time, “Fantastic results! For this invaluable research, we have to thank the Irish Catholic Church for the unfettered use of the Orphan Bastards.”
Once approval was received from the authorities, the trials began. By the 1960s, the approval had become exclusive to one research and manufacturing company, Burroughs Wellcome, (later re-named The Wellcome Trust, and later still merged into GlaxoSmithKline – GSK. For ease, I will refer to the company as “Wellcome Trust”).
The largest number of trials was carried out with vaccines. During the 1940s, 50s, 60s and 70s, Wellcome Trust secretly vaccinated more than 5,000 women, children and babies – some as young as six months old. According to the British Medical Journal, the diphtheria vaccine and other untried drugs administered to the children by the laboratory technicians from Wellcome Trust had never been tested on any humans (let alone already unhealthy, under-nourished and failing to thrive babies), but also the techniques for delivering them were often experimental. Multiple vaccines, or several shots of the same vaccine, were sometimes administered all at the same time. As is well known in the scientific world today, there are no valid studies to support the safety of giving multiple and simultaneous inoculations.
Medical staff tested immunisation compounds and serums for the prevention and treatment of many contagious diseases, including typhus, tuberculosis, typhoid fever, infectious hepatitis, measles, mumps, rubella, pertussis, tetanus, diphtheria, and polio.
Some of the children had from three to six diseases injected directly into their tiny bodies in one shot, while the nuns, doctors and technicians looked on with interest and noted the results. If any child had a serious reaction to the first set of drug shots then he would be given a second round and the effects recorded. Again Wellcome Trust personnel watched the possibly life-threatening reactions and proceeded to administer a third set of multiple drug shots. By trial and error, trial and error, trial and error, the lives of children who were not Orphan Bastards might someday be saved by the heroic efforts of these white-coated doctors and technicians and the results they gleaned from their young victims.
Naturally, no intervention would be made at any stage to assuage the pain even if the child was dying - as thousands of them did; that would have made the results impossible to evaluate. Even if they had wanted to intervene, the nuns would be too busy eating the treats made possible by the blood money, or ironing to perfection the new altar linens. And if there were a dead body, why then, more pieces of silver could be piled with gratitude into the convent coffers because the good Sisters would sell the bodies for dissection to the Department of Medical Microbiology at University College Dublin or the Trinity College Medical Centre. Sometimes the cadavers were even sold back (with no need for incriminating receipts that might sully their reputation for corporate philanthropy) to their exterminators, Wellcome Trust.
The selling of dead children allowed the Catholic Church to make hundreds of thousands of pounds from this obscenity alone. It is known that over 2,500 deaths occurred as a direct results of the illegal drug experiments in Mother and Baby Homes between the 1940s and their closure in the 1970s. In Catholic Ireland the asking price for the dead body of a fully vaccinated child was £1,000.
Some of the vaccine trials in the Irish Mother and Baby Homes that had devastating consequences for some children were those for polio and diphtheria. Many of the same highly toxic vaccines were also given to pregnant women, causing high levels of spontaneous abortion.
Polio vaccine experiments were introduced to Mother and Baby Homes in the late 1940’s. Polio is an infectious disease caused by a virus that inhabits the throat and intestinal tract and used to be very common in Ireland, causing severe illness in thousands of children before the introduction of the vaccine in 1958. Sanitation is preeminent in containing polio outbreaks. The use of live poliovirus vaccine, (which increased the risk of polio in children) coupled with poor hygiene standards, caused many outbreaks of the disease in Mother and Baby Homes.
Although the scientific method of hypothesis, formulation, testing and verification is straightforward, even the most spectacular achievements involve complicated issues and tough choices. The doctors and scientists who raced toward effective polio vaccines tested their handy-work on institutionalised orphan children prior to 1955. When the Irish Government announced that polio vaccination was to come to Ireland in 1958, many Mother and Baby Homes in Ireland had already been participating with the secret trials for years. The nuns and the Irish Catholic Church already had their thirty pieces of silver and, with no remorse, gladly accepted the cash at the expense of the possible extermination of defenceless children in its care.
One of the first batches of polio vaccine was tested on hundreds of children in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Over 200 of the children died within a few weeks. It was determined that the dosage contained too much aluminium. The doctors reformulated the next batch and tested it on children in the Mother and Baby Homes in Ireland. As a result, many children died although some struggled for a few years before dying and many were left crippled for life. They were a visible, painful reminder to society of the enormous toll this disease took on young lives.
It has now been discovered by medical researchers that some of the polio vaccine distributed to and used by the Mother and Baby Homes and Orphanages in Ireland in the 1950s and 1960s was infected with a virus called Simian Virus 40 (SV-40), a monkey virus not normally found in humans. Unknown at the time, it was present in hundreds of the rhesus monkeys that were used to grow and harvest the polio vaccine.
Now, many years later, SV-40 has appeared in over 70% of all new cancer patients born during the 1950s and the 1960s in Ireland. These numbers encompass not only children from the Orphanages, but also children born within Irish families nation-wide who also received this contaminated vaccine. Isolated fragments of this strain of SV-40 are present in human bones of many different cancer sufferers now in their late 50s and 60s.
Contemporary researchers have determined that SV-40 can even be transmitted sexually and through blood transfusions. Even more shocking, SV-40 has appeared in over 50% of all new cancer patients in Ireland, even those too young to have received the contaminated vaccine being administered in the 50s and 60s.
Wellcome Trust also carried out another experiment that went wrong in many Mother and Baby Homes - the vaccine in question this time was for diphtheria. Old medical records show that thousands of children and babies in Mother and Baby Homes throughout Ireland were given a one-shot diphtheria vaccine from the international drugs giant. As with the polio vaccine, the pharmaceutical company had a complete lack of experience of its use with human beings. Wellcome Trust lab workers who prepared the formula got it wrong, and, as a result, hundreds of orphan children died.
According to The Lancet and The British Medical Journal who published the results of the trials, the alum-toxoid level in the original batches of the diphtheria vaccine that was administered to the babies and children was over 9 per cent aluminium – a level that is hugely toxic. Aluminium salts are added to vaccines as an adjuvant to speed and promote a response to the virus or bacteria contained in the vaccine. Toxic levels of aluminium promote cellular death and can (and did) overload the kidneys of new- born, often premature, babies who had received the vaccine. Many died or survived with highly compromised immune systems. We also know of a direct link between high levels of aluminium salts and Alzheimer's disease which can appear later in life.
Another little known fact is that after the Second World War, thousands of Nazi war criminals and collaborators were helped by sympathisers in the Catholic Church to escape a war-ravaged Germany. The instructions and directions to provide this aid came from the Vatican as well as from the Red Cross. Many of these fleeing Nazis were given safe passage through neutral, Catholic Ireland, and were later sent on their way to new identities and life in other Catholic Countries in Latin America. Of the Nazi doctors and other medical staff who arrived in Ireland this way, a few stayed and made Ireland their home. Some of them ended up working for pharmaceutical companies - including Wellcome Trust.
Again according to a British Medical Journal, the Burroughs Wellcome Company medical laboratory technicians who prepared and gave the vaccine for diphtheria and other untried medical drugs to the orphan children had a complete lack of experience and training of its uses with human beings, especially babies and children. The initial trials were carried out on hundreds of babies and children from the many Mother and Baby Homes and Orphanages throughout Ireland, from the 1920a though the early 1970s. In the case of diphtheria vaccine drug from the original batches the alum-toxoid vaccine level, at that time, the diphtheria vaccine dosage which comprised of over 9 per cent aluminium, caused severe reaction like fatal abscesses and hard lumps at the injection site, like intense pain, swelling and redness, causing fatal skin lesions, which resulted in skin lesions and the drugs rash that the nuns knew nothing about, started to appear on the babies and children in their care.
The fatal skin lesions were at the time different cancers, life-threatening complications which caused toxic shock syndrome which was a potentially fatal illness caused by a bacterial toxin Staphylococcus aureus; toxic epidermal necrolysis; pemphigus vulgaris. Milder side effects included raging fever, shivers, constant fatigue, severe headache, intense vomiting, multiple muscle spasms, and enflamed joints. The severity of the many side effects, which were covered up by both the drug company and the nuns at the time, resulted in the death of babies and children in the pastoral care of the Nuns. Owen Felix O'Neill