On March 11, 2021, Amanda Damian responded to the call to get vaccinated against COVID-19. She willingly signed up to get the shot because she had always gotten vaccines and never had issues. She didn't have pre-existing heart or neurological problems and trusted the Moderna vaccine would protect her from the rampant virus.
What happened just three minutes later would be the start of a lifelong health struggle for Damian. From paralysis to cancer, she has received multiple diagnoses and is now fighting for her life. But instead of dwelling on what is happening to her body, she is using all her energy to tell her story.
"I've been brave to share, and a lot of it's not pretty," Damian said. "But it is what it is, and it's happening."
Within three minutes of receiving the vaccine, Damian said her tongue began swelling, and she experienced a strange feeling in her throat. She wasn't alarmed, however, and after 15 minutes, she left the vaccine site, but throughout the evening, things worsened. After feeling like she couldn't catch her breath, she decided to go to the emergency room.
"My heart was starting to race, and I literally felt like I couldn't catch my breath," she remembered. "My heart rate was through the roof. My blood pressure was super high. I was, like, ready to stroke out."
Doctors in Michigan, where Damian lived at the time, began running tests. She said she failed a stress test and a postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS) test.
POTS is a condition that causes a fast heart rate, dizziness and other symptoms after a patient goes from lying down to standing up.
She isn't alone
The cause of POTS is unknown, but there are multiple reports to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) of people developing the condition after receiving the COVID vaccine.
One report from June 2022 stated that five patients at SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, New York, were studied after developing POTS following the Moderna vaccine. POTS is also associated with patients who have contracted COVID, but the five patients in the study did not have COVID, only the vaccine.
A 37-year-old woman was labeled Patient 1. She was experiencing lightheadedness, heart racing, weakness, tiredness, difficulty concentrating, blurry vision, dry eyes, shakiness, vertigo, clamminess, dry mouth, dry eyes, abnormal sweating, abnormal sensitivity to the heat, significant constipation and numbness and tingling of the feet, legs, hands, and occasionally the face.
"Her symptoms started one week after receiving the first dose of Moderna, COVID-19 vaccine," the report states. "She has no significant past medical history (PMH) apart from seasonal allergy and depression for which she is taking vortioxetine, which was held five half-lives before autonomic testing."
But for Damian, the symptoms and problems progressed, and with every passing day, she said things just seemed to get worse.
"Every day was a new symptom," Damian said. "A rash all over my face, heart problems, vision problems, a ringing in my ears, my face was tingling and burning."
Within six weeks, Damian said she was paralyzed.
"I could not use my arms or legs," she said. "It was like they weren't attached to my body."
Damian was given more medications, including steroids, but nothing was helping. She was finally admitted to the hospital for more tests. After a spinal tap came back abnormal, she said it was apparent there was a problem, but it seemed the doctors didn't want to acknowledge the cause.
"The neurologist came and saw me, and basically, as soon as she came in the door, she told me she didn't believe me. She didn't think it was vaccine-related, even though that was the only thing that changed in my life, and I was sick right away," said Damian. "She wrote in my medical record, 'bilateral weakness due to lack of effort.' That's what my medical records say. Then they just wanted to send me home, and they were like, 'you're making this up, you have anxiety, you're crazy, everything, we can't admit it is basically what happened."
Eventually, Damian was diagnosed with Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS). Her immune system was attacking her nerves and had likely been the cause of the paralysis and tingling. However, she was denied medication to treat the GBS.
Sweet Home Alabama and Dr. Jordan Vaughn
It wasn't long before Damian moved to Alabama, where she met several new doctors, including Dr. Jordan Vaughn.
Vaughn, a well-known internist and founder of MedHelp, is also the co-founder of the Concerned Doctors organization. He has taken a stand against the COVID vaccine and has fought for the scientific method of treating patients despite pressure from medical licensing boards.
Vaughn has also been studying abnormal, fibrous clots discovered inside the bodies of people who have gotten the vaccine and a genetic mutation that could make it harder for some patients to fight clots. Damian has that genetic mutation. Around Thanksgiving 2022, Damian said she passed her first strange clot. Since then, she has had two more and has been diagnosed with cervical cancer.
"Some days, I'm defeated and feel very deflated," Damian added. "Some days I'm like, 'What has the world come to?' Because once you know this stuff, it's hard to look away. I just wish people would understand."
And she hasn't stopped. Although she contacted Moderna, Damian said no one got back to her about her concerns. But in June of 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a report of heart inflammation that is potentially linked to the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines. Although cases are rare, according to the CDC, occurrences of myocarditis and pericarditis have happened, mostly in adolescents and young males.
However, the CDC still recommends those two vaccines over the Johnson & Johnson vaccine due to potential blood clots.
The CDC also recommends Moderna and Pfizer vaccines for children six months and older.
"The known risks of COVID-19 illness and its related, possibly severe complications, such as long-term health problems, hospitalization, and even death, far outweigh the potential risks of having a rare adverse reaction to vaccination, including the possible risk of myocarditis or pericarditis," the CDC website states.
Alabama Health Freedom Bill
The Alabama Health Freedom Bill has been filed this legislative session by freshman State Rep. Ernie Yarbrough (R-Trinity). The bill would prohibit discrimination based on vaccine status, whether for a job or entry into school. The purpose is to prevent vaccine mandates and to "protect the personal liberty and health freedom of our citizens," Yarbrough previously told 1819 News.
Damian and others hope the bill passes.
Damian said she has gotten feeling back in her legs and arms, although she still experiences setbacks occasionally. She is currently wearing an ambulatory EEG because she has episodes where she stops breathing, and doctors believe it could be related to seizures.
After everything she has experienced, she said she feels important information has been suppressed, and now she wants to educate others. Because of her professional background in the hospitality industry, Damian has been able to produce several events surrounding her cause, including rallies across the nation, including a rally in front of the U.S. Supreme Court, a march for Defeat the Mandate in Washington, D.C., and the COVID Litigation Conference in Atlanta.
"I've been doing some work on the side, and I feel called to use the tools and the skills that I spent my career building that I can't use for full-time work anymore," she told 1819 News. "I have built a whole team. During the event in Atlanta, I had four seizures and had help. It was a horrible night, but I got up the next day and kept going.
"I'm never going to stop fighting."
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