Yes, the blood samples at my son’s birthday party. In order to study the children with autism, we were examining their blood samples. We needed blood samples from healthy children. Of course, in hospital you don’t see healthy children. You see children who are sick, and so my wife suggested that we have a birthday party coming up, maybe we can get some blood from our children and children at the birthday party? I thought that was a reasonable idea.
It was done with fully informed child and parental consent. Fully informed. It was entirely ethical. It was no worse, for example, than going to CVS and having a shot. In fact, probably substantially better. It was done by a highly experienced general practitioner, not by me. There were no problems at all.
The only problem was that it did not have an approval from the Hospital Ethics Committee. That does not make it unethical. It was done, as I say, with fully informed child and parental consent. That’s the story. Do I regret it? Yes. Not because it was unethical, it wasn’t, but because it gave the General Medical Council a concrete reason for them taking away my license. It was a mistake, and if I did it again, I would do so with the appropriate ethical approval, and so therefore, it’s something I regret. Was it at any stage unethical? No.
— Andrew Wakefield, MD