On a crisp fall evening in October 2022, a quiet evening quickly turned into every parents’ worst nightmare.
A week prior, Melissa, a new mom and nurse in Maine, had taken her 2-month-old son, Sawyer, to see his pediatrician. At the time, Sawyer had a persistent rash and had not been feeling well. The pediatrician diagnosed Sawyer with a viral infection and suggested a cream for the rash.
A week later, mom returned to the same pediatrician’s clinic for Sawyers “well-child” check-up.
Melissa asked the doctor if they should wait until Sawyer’s infection had cleared up before vaccinating. But the doctor assured her it was fine. It was explained to her that while Sawyer still had the rash, he did not have a fever. The doctor insisted that it would be perfectly safe to administer the 2-month vaccinations.
Against her better judgement, and a sick feeling in her stomach, Melissa consented. Afterall, Melissa trusted her doctor.
At that visit, Sawyer was given the standard 2-month shots. Four shots to protect against eight illnesses.
Pediarix (a combination vaccine that contains DTaP, IPV, and Hep B)
By the time Melissa got home, Baby Sawyer was screaming like he had never screamed before. Moms whose children have suffered severe vaccine reactions have dubbed this “TDaP scream”. A high pitched, blood curdling expression of agony.
Melissa gave Sawyer a dose of Tylenol, as she had been directed to do by the doctor to help make the baby more comfortable. The next morning, Sawyer was still fussy and uncomfortable, so she gave him an additional partial dose of Tylenol. She took him for a walk, she rocked him and comforted him. She noticed Sawyer kept pressing his forehead into her chest and rubbing it back and forth. But she brushed it off as nothing.
That evening, Melissa and Nick put Sawyer down to rest.
Melissa worked remotely, but their home was small, and she also kept a baby monitor next to her. So, she heard Sawyer fuss about 45 minutes later, and she heard Nick checking on him. Nick readjusted him, and rubbed his back as Fathers do, soothing little Sawyer back to sleep.
Sawyer slept on and off for about four hours, during which she and her husband both checked on him periodically. But the last time she checked on him, will be a moment burned into her heart.
She saw Sawyer, in his bassinet, but Sawyer wasn’t moving or breathing. She picked him up, letting out the scream of a Mother’s world shattering. Nick rushed in, dialed 911, and they performed CPR as they waited for help to arrive.
The emergency medical technicians did everything. But Sawyer was gone.
Sawyer was pronounced dead at 10:51 that night. His tiny body was put into a body bag, and taken away by the Brookings-Smith Funeral Home.
A formal investigation was opened by State Police, and an autopsy was performed the following day on October 29, 2022.
Although the autopsy was done the following day, Melissa and Nick wouldn’t receive the report until just days before Christmas. In the two months they would wait, they would also be subject to police questioning and traumatic reenactments with a doll. Melissa was questioned about her husband; it was suggested that maybe he did something to Sawyer. Maybe he was drinking, maybe he had a problem. But in spite of an intense investigation, the police were unable to find any evidence of foul play or abuse.
According to the pathology report, the child was “well developed” and had no signs of injury or bruising on his body.
Baby Sawyer’s death was ruled an accident, and the case was closed.
Melissa and Nick were devastated. But there was just something Melissa couldn’t let go of. This couldn’t just be a coincidence. Her son was vaccinated, and now he’s just- gone. As a Mother, she needed answers, as a nurse, she knew something wasn’t right.
Melissa found a pathology protocol online that contained a list of recommended tests for infants when vaccination was a suspected cause. She emailed Dr. Mark Flomembaum’s office, and officially requested these tests be performed.
Flomembaum’s office refused. Sandra Slemmer, Medicolegal Death Investigator for the State of Maine, explained via e-mail that:
“Dr. Flomenbaum and I reviewed your correspondence to Office of Chief Medical Examiner (OCME). I will do my best to address all of your requests and concerns. If you have more questions, please feel free to contact me.”
Slemmer’s email, in a screenshot below, asserts that heavy metals do not cause SIDS, so additional testing was not necessary.
Their emailed response further claims that if there were heavy metals in his system, the amounts would be “so small” that these metals would not be a contributing factor in his demise.
Finally, the email states that the description of the baby’s sleeping environment was “compelling,” and therefore they saw no reason to perform any additional tests.
The environment described was “compelling”? So, did the State Medical Examiner determine cause of death based on the autopsy? Or based on what the police had told him during the autopsy?
Unable to get the Medical Examiner to do any further investigation, Melissa feared she was out of options.
Until she was introduced to Health Choice Maine.
Melissa reached out, and subsequently met with Tiffany Kreck, our Executive Director. The timing was unique. Since it had only been a few months since Sawyer’s passing, Tiffany had some ideas, and agreed to assist Melissa in her pursuit of answers.
We built our casefile, collecting evidence, collecting necessary documents and building a timeline. All while searching the country for a Pathologist that could order the testing we wanted.
In the meantime, we dedicated efforts to supporting Melissa and Nick. The emotional harm caused to them at the hands of bureaucracy was astounding. Being a community focused organization, we did everything we could to hold space for them, support them in their grief, and validate their feelings. In the best of situations, vaccine induced harm is a complicated and impactful event for any family to navigate. In a situation like this, it’s almost impossible.
We searched for more than four months, enlisting the full reach of our network, and that of our affiliates such as Children’s Health Defense, and Stand for Health Freedom, only to come up empty handed. Unwilling to give up, we would find a willing Medical Examiner much closer to home.
What we would find would validate all our suspicions and exonerate Melissa and Nick.
Baby Sawyer’s blood contained 95 micrograms per liter of aluminum, twice the toxic level for an adult.
Not only was the Medical Examiner’s office wrong in their assumption that heavy metals did not contribute to death, but they were also wrong in their actual ruling as well. Baby Sawyer did not die of asphyxiation at all, let alone due to a blanket he was laying on. Had the Medical Examiner been more willing to simply investigate with all the resources available to him, he wouldn’t have missed this, and this family may have been saved a lot of additional trauma.
It is the opinion of Health Choice Maine that the additional pathology reports are a stark example of how much our Medical Examiners simply don’t know, because they simply will not look. Furthermore, we standby our suggestion that these types of tests should be standardized in ALL SIDS, and unexplained infant death cases. And we would like to pose this one question: How many other parents have been wrongly blamed for their infants’ deaths?
Health Choice Maine has secured a highly accredited VICP Attorney with a specialty in aluminum induced encephalopathy for Melissa and Nick, and continues to work with them to challenge the cause of death and secure justice for Sawyer.
Since this story first broke, we have since had another Maine family reach out whose situation is almost identical. We will work with this family to investigate and take additional steps as necessary.
If you or someone you know has suffered the tragedy of an infant that has died within a week of a well-baby check-up, please contact Health Choice Maine. Our experienced advocates are here to help.