Just to quickly fill you in, a toddler died from meningitis after his anti-vaxx parents treated him with maple syrup instead of medication. When I first read that headline I was outraged. I have a son almost the same age as 19-monthold Ezekiel Stephan, and I was appalled. But then I read the whole story. Okay, so I’m still outraged and appalled … but I’m also sad and conflicted on a deeper level now, too.
All the headlines say “Anti-Vaxxers” — and, I do believe in vaccinations, wholeheartedly — but what I keep coming back to is the part about home remedies. Growing up, my mom was all about home remedies and homeopathic cures. Wait, what am I talking about – she is still the queen of “Did you try putting lemon juice on Trixie’s wart?” and “You should drink apple cider vinegar for that sore throat.” Over the years she has given me a bajillion words of advice on safe, alternative ways to treat my ails and the ails of my children. But when the home remedies didn’t pan out, my mother always took action. Doctors, antibiotics, vaccines. Whatever it took, because my health was always more important than her urge to use a mortar and pestle.
What upsets me the most is that these Mormon anti-vaxx parents from Canada didn’t feel the same way. Dave and Collet Stephan, who own a nutritional supplement company, decided to feed their dying son maple syrup. Even though the government had previously issued warnings about their supplements, the couple gave Ezekiel mixtures of olive leaf extract, horseradish root, hot peppers, and onions. Even after they’d been told by a friend that the child had all the symptoms of meningitis, and even after his body became stiff and lethargic, they did not call an ambulance until their son had stopped breathing. The boy was airlifted to a hospital, but taken off life support five days later.
It is tragic.
As the case stands, the Stephans are pleading not-guilty to charges that they failed to provide the necessities of life to their 19-month-old son. Uh, yeah, no sh*t. It’s not even actually an accusation that his death would have been prevented if the toddler had been given the vaccine for Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib). In this particular case, it’s not about that (although, yeah, the kid should have been vaccinated). It’s about the fact that they basically fed him frozen berries and whey protein and watched him die.
Sure, I don’t like to ply my kids with antibiotics, and if I think a steam bath will work I’ll opt for that over the nebulizer. But I will do whatever it takes to keep my kids healthy. It’s an easy decision to make.
Photo: Prayers for Ezekiel/Facebook