The answer to the question of whether Dr. Andrew Wakefield is a hero or an enemy to modern science depends largely on one’s perspective and training. Dr. Wakefield, a practicing British gastroenterologist, dared to publicly question the safety of the MMR vaccination in 1998.
Wakefield observed that his pediatric gastroenterology patients suffered specific inflammatory bowel issues and developed symptoms of autism following the MMR vaccine. Wakefield was not anti-vaccine, but simply recommended single vaccinations as opposed to the combination MMR vaccine, which included three separate vaccinations.
Wakefield suffered an extremely negative and strong reaction by his peers, medical groups and governing board, and the media. His advocacy ultimately caused him to lose his medical license and reputation among many of his peers.
Recently, Dr. Wakefield has directed the documentary Vaxxed, which attempts to again publicly uncover the dangers of the MMR vaccine and its connections to autism. Wakefield has become a champion for the autism community, who stand behind his dedication and work to help the growing number of children suffering from autism and related bowel disease.
Wakefield also has many supporters within the holistic health community who recognize the tremendous work he has done to help those suffering from autism and gastrointestinal disease. [1,2]
Who Exactly Is Dr. Andrew Wakefield, And What Happened To Him?
Dr. Andrew Wakefield is a gastroenterologist who witnessed the connection between the MMR vaccination with autism and specific gastrointestinal tract health issues. He recommended that his patients get the vaccinations separately instead of receiving the MMR vaccine as a combination vaccination. He did not initially speak out against vaccinations.
In 1998, Wakefield, along with his colleague Professor John Walker-Smith, formally reported in The Lancet medical journal case studies involving 12 patients who experienced the connection between autism and a particular syndrome of GI symptoms. Wakefield and Smith also shared that parents reported that the autism diagnosis followed the MMR vaccine. [3-5]
Journalist Brian Deer, in 2004 published articles in the British Medical Journal accusing Wakefield and Smith of fraud. Both Wakefield and John Walker-Smith were later barred on January 28, 2010, from practicing medicine by the United Kingdom’s General Medical Council. [6-8] The Lancet retracted the work of Wakefield and Smith, following the removal of their medical licenses.
Interestingly, both the British Medical Journal and The Lancet have strong ties to the pharmaceutical company which manufactures the MMR vaccine. 
The MMR vaccination began losing money after The Lancet article publication, although sales of single vaccinations increased. In March of 2012, Professor John Walker-Smith’s fight to regain his medical license was successful, when he was found non-guilty of any wrongdoing or fraud. John Walker-Smith received financial support from his medical liability insurance to fight the courts, but Wakefield was unable to do so. [10-12]
In 2012, Robert Scott Bell interviewed Dr. Andrew Wakefield for his radio show. In that interview, Dr. Wakefield shared how his colleague who co-wrote The Lancet report won back his license to practice medicine in an appeal to the High Court in the United Kingdom. He also shared interesting information about the lack of fairness in the actual trial which removed the medical licenses for both Wakefield and Smith to practice medicine:
“Absolutely, in the High Court in the UK, the long awaited outcome of John Walker Smith’s appeal. People who don’t know, John Walker Smith is one of the founding fathers of pediatric gastroenterology in the world, he is an outstanding physician and very, very well respected and a leader in the field, a teacher of so many of today’s young pediatric gastroenterologists.
Back in 1998 we published in The Lancet on the discovery of a new bowel disease in children with autism and an association in time that the parents had made with MMR vaccine and for that, for those efforts, he was in an effort I think to get me to stop vaccine safety research, to send a message to everybody else, he lost his medical license along with me.
He was allowed to appeal, I couldn’t afford to but he was funded to appeal and he was completely and utterly exonerated in the high court. The judge issued a resounding condemnation of, I think in legal terms, at least in my opinion, the way in which the General Medical Council’s case was handled. Asking why would a man of this caliber even consider taking a risk in effect.
That’s my reading of the opinion, but you know some of the criticisms of the GMC were very, very harsh and it may interest the readers- here you may think that there would be experts in research and experts in pediatric gastroenterology and child psychiatry sitting on the panel to judge this doctor, but there weren’t. There were two lay people, one general practitioner with no experience in research, and rather than having a child psychiatrist they had an adult psychiatrist and rather than having a pediatrician they had a geriatrician. So right from the outset you can see how flawed the process was.”
Dr. Andrew Wakefield currently lives in Texas. He has continued his research into the vaccination, autism and bowel disease connection and helped countless patients with his research. 
Why Is Dr. Wakefield So Threatening To Conventional Medicine?
Physicians receive strong, one-sided conditioning in their medical training regarding the safety and effectiveness of vaccinations. They are taught the importance of vaccines in preventing diseases, while evidence which contradicts this teaching is ignored and minimized.
Physicians also receive training and rewards which encourage them to vaccinate as aggressively as possible. While the existence of vaccine dangers to health are discussed, these facts are largely minimized. Doctors also face tremendous pressure to vaccinate by their professional groups and face negative economic and professional consequences if they question vaccines. As a result, many physicians blindly recommend vaccines and feel threatened by anyone who questions their safety. 
Physicians are actually taught the absurdity that “the immune system is capable of responding to 100,000 vaccines at one time,” according to the abstract by Dr. Offit et al. 
Money And Big Pharma
Dr. Wakefield’s tremendous courage and strength of character required to question the safety of the combination MMR vaccine threatened in a significant way the very institution of vaccinations, which is highly profitable for pharmaceutical companies. The pharmaceutical companies had too much to lose, so they embarked on a determined smear campaign to ruin Dr. Wakefield’s reputation. As previously stated, the medical “industry” went so far as to remove his medical license. 
With the recent series of uncanny, horrible, and suspicious deaths of some of the most valiant and brilliant holistic physicians, it is clear that the forces threatened with financial loss will go to any lengths to ensure their profits go uninterrupted. 
As previously stated, following Wakefield’s report in The Lancet, sales of the MMR vaccine declined. Both Wakefield and Walker-Smith were highly respected researchers and physicians. This financial threat to pharmaceutical companies prompted the backlash to these prominent researchers. It is well-documented that vaccinations are a huge money maker for pharmaceutical companies. 
Why Dr. Wakefield Is A Hero To The Autism Community
On the other side of the Wakefield debate are those who have experienced firsthand vaccine damages to themselves or a family member or friend. Others trained in or living a holistic lifestyle also take time to research the vaccination issue and often conclude that vaccines are neither safe or effective. These individuals embrace Dr. Wakefield as a hero and defend his position.
Dr. Wakefield is the rare physician who has listened to his parents’ reports of their children’s dramatic health decline into autism following the MMR vaccine. Wakefield has researched and found treatments for the resulting unique inflammatory bowel disease which has resulted.
The following autism groups have supported Dr. Wakefield and his tremendous commitment and efforts to help the autism community and the thousands of suffering children:
- Age of Autism
- Autism Action Network
- Autism Media Channel
- Autism One
- Autism File
- Global Autism Research Institute
- Elizabeth Birt Center for Autism Law and Advocacy
- Generation Rescue
- National Autism Association
- No Mercury
- Schafer Autism Report
- TACA-Talk About Curing Autism
- The Autism Trust USA/UK
- The Coalition for SafeMinds
- The Alan D. Clark, M.D. Memorial Research Foundation 
In his own words, Dr. Wakefield has stated:
“… They’ve underestimated the mothers, who are formidable. What a formidable force, and far more frightening in many respects than the CDC or the pharmaceutical industry. They know what happened to their children, they’re not going to be put off, they’re not going to back down from this fight and they are a tremendous inspiration. So much of what I’ve understood, what I know now about autism and the gut-brain link and the immune system link and detoxification and so on has come from parental insights and not, sadly, from any insights from the medical profession or scientists. That is instructive in itself. Therefore when they say this is what happened to my child in the face of a vaccine, we have to take that extremely seriously.” 
Research Supports Wakefield’s Initial Work
Tremendous research supports Dr. Wakefield’s initial study connecting autism with bowel disorders. The following are peer-reviewed papers supporting his work:
- Furlano R, Anthony A, Day R, Brown A, Mc Garvey L, Thomson M, et al. “Colonic CD8 and T cell filtration with epithelial damage in children with autism.” J Pediatr, 2001;138:366-72.
- Sabra S, Bellanti JA, Colon AR. “Ileal lymphoid hyperplasia, non-specific colitis and pervasive developmental disorder in children.” The Lancet, 1998;352:234-5.
- Torrente F., Machado N., Perez-Machado M., Furlano R., Thomson M., Davies S., Wakefield AJ, Walker-Smith JA, Murch SH. “Enteropathy with T cell infiltration and epithelial IgG deposition in autism.” Molecular Psychiatry, 2002;7:375-382.
- Wakefield AJ, Anthony A, Murch SH, Thomson M, Montgomery SM, Davies S, Walker-Smith JA. “Enterocolitis in children with developmental disorder.” American Journal of Gastroenterology, 2000;95:2285-2295.
- Ashwood P, Anthony A, Pellicer AA, Torrente F, Wakefield AJ. “Intestinal lymphocyte populations in children with regressive autism: evidence for extensive mucosal immunopathology.” Journal of Clinical Immunology, 2003;23:504-517.
The following peer-reviewed papers replicate Dr. Wakefield’s original findings:
- Gonzalez, L. et al., “Endoscopic and Histological Characteristics of the Digestive Mucosa in Autistic Children with gastro-Intestinal Symptoms.” Arch Venez Pueric Pediatr, 2005;69:19-25.
- Balzola, F., et al., “Panenteric IBD-like disease in a patient with regressive autism shown for the first time by wireless capsule enteroscopy: Another piece in the jig-saw of the gut-brain syndrome?” American Journal of Gastroenterology, 2005. 100(4): p. 979- 981.
- Balzola F et al . “Autistic enterocolitis: confirmation of a new inflammatory bowel disease in an Italian cohort of patients.” Gastroenterology, 2005;128(Suppl. 2);A-303.
These are the articles on treatment of gastrointestinal symptoms in autistic children:
- Buie T, et al. Pediatrics. 2010 Jan;125 Suppl 1:S19-29. Recommendations for evaluation and treatment of common gastrointestinal problems in children with ASDs.
- Buie T, et al. Pediatrics. 2010 Jan;125 Suppl 1:S1-18. Evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment of gastrointestinal disorders in individuals with ASDs: a consensus report. 
Dr. Wakefield has been demonized by mainstream media and conventional medicine, while he is considered a hero in the holistic community. Is Wakefield a hero or a quack? Only you can decide for yourself.
About the Author:
Michelle Goldstein is a mental health therapist who is passionate about holistic health, natural healing, nutrient-dense foods and the politics that impact them. She has published articles for Natural News, VacTruth, and other health websites. All of her published articles to date can be found at her health website, Holistic Health to Go. She can also be followed on her Facebook Page, Holistic Health to Go.