PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) - The doctor who first raised the possible link between the MMR(Measles, Mumps and Rubella) vaccine and autism lost his license topractice medicine in the United Kingdom Monday.
Dr. Andrew Wakefield's study in 1998 sparked an internationalcontroversy, and even made some parents stop vaccinating theirchildren.
An investigation showed that when Wakefield conducted hisresearch he was being paid as an expert in a class action lawsuitby parents who believed the vaccine damaged their children. Forthis reason, and others, The British Medical Council revoked hislicense, but many families still believe in his research.
"I feel bad for Dr. Wakefield," said Eve Burton-Poteet, themother of a child with autism. "I feel he's being put up as thesacrificial lamb, so to speak."
She says nothing will change her mind about Wakefield or hisresearch suggesting the link between the common vaccine and thedisorder that effects a few out of every thousand people. She saysshe witnessed it first hand with her son.
"He met every single milestone," she said.
Josh was speaking, listening to stories, and connecting topeople. But Poteet says after his MMR shot at 18 months, he stoppedall of that.
"I used to play eye games with him 'Look in my eyes,' his ownmothers eyes, 'Joshie please look in my eyes for 10 seconds,'" sherecalled.
Wakefield's study made sense to her. But since the journalLancet published it in 1998, no large scale study has reproducedthose exact results.
In an exclusive interview with the TODAY Show last summer,Wakefield confirmed he was paid to conduct research on behalf ofplaintiffs, but said it was for a later study that never gotpublished.
Three years ago the General Medical Council, which licensedphysicians in the U.K., began investigating the doctor, includinghow he got blood samples for research from children attending hisown child's birthday party.
TODAY Show anchor Matt Lauer asked, "I don't know why thatsounds funny to me, but it does. At a childrens birthday party,blood samples being drawn from children. Were they paid for thesamples?"
Dr. Wakefield responded, "They were rewarded. They weren'tpaid." Lauer asked Wakefield how they were rewarded.
"At the end of the party, they were given five pounds about, atthe time, I guess about, eight dollars."
British Medical Council says that act was unethical. Butaccording to Poteet, it does not mean the research findings arewrong. Instead, she finds the timing interesting.
Tuesday, Wakefield is set to release a book on his research at aGeneral Medical Council trial, and what he calls the "trials andtribulations" he has endured over the past two decades due to hiswell-known autism research.
A company has been hired to complete the repairs to the Herbert C. Bonner Bridge on the Outer Banks, but how long those repairs will take remains unknown.
Drivers traveling between Hatteras Island and the mainland were forced to use an emergency ferry Wednesday, following the sudden closure of the Bonner Bridge Tuesday.
State officials say construction on a new Bonner Bridge has been delayed for years because of a legal battle with an environmental group.