Kevin John Donachie
On the 3rd of August 2006 I was diagnosed with meningococcal
meningitis. The night before I ached all over and had a black and blue spot on
my leg. My mum made an appointment for me to see my doctor. He told me to go
home and rest and take the usual medicines for flu-like symptoms and if my
condition got any worse to phone him back.
This was also the day my parents and brother were going to Spain on holiday. I
remember my mum phoning me from Spain in the afternoon to find out how I was,
but after that my memory for the next five days is totally blank and the
following account was described to me at a later date.
My mum tried to phone me at 6pm that night and thought it was unusual that
there was no answer. She knew something wasn’t right and phoned a family friend
(Iain) who is a trained nurse to check if I was OK. When Iain entered the house
he found me lying on the hall floor semi-conscious moaning loudly and covered
in vomit. I was incoherent and unaware Iain was there and therefore unable to
respond to him. He cleared my mouth of vomit as I was choking and after a quick
examination he dialled 999. Iain had to call his partner for assistance as he
was finding it difficult to care for me and watch for the ambulance. Forty-five
minutes later the ambulance arrived.
The paramedics arrived and Iain passed on his suspicion of meningitis. They
didn’t seem too concerned and thought I’d been drinking or taking drugs. I was
taken to Glasgow Royal Infirmary where they quickly diagnosed meningitis. I was
seriously ill; my brain was swelling and I had lapsed into a coma. Doctors
decided to transfer me to a specialist hospital where they could operate on me
to relieve the pressure and swelling on my brain.
Doctors told Iain to tell my family to get home as soon as they could as it was
touch and go whether or not I would survive. They were distraught and spent
several hours trying to get back home. Finally through the kindness of others
and the airline they managed to get on a flight and arrived at the hospital at
By this time I’d been to theatre where doctors had successfully removed the
fluid and pressure from my brain, and put a drain in to remove any build up of
fluid in my brain. The next 48 hours were critical and a priest was asked to
give me a blessing. I was on a life support machine in an intensive care unit
which I remained on for two days and then began to regain consciousness. I
spent a further three days in intensive care and then was transferred to a high
Doctors were now confident that in time I’d make a full recovery and attributed
this to my high fitness level and a strong will to survive.
A Health Officer met my parents to try and find out how I could have contracted
meningitis. By process of elimination they believe I caught the disease from
sharing a straw with a girl whilst on holiday in Spain a week earlier. Luckily
we’d swapped numbers and Iain was able to contact her, tell her what had
happened to me and told her to see her GP immediately. Later that day she was
rushed to the same hospital with meningitis and luckily it was caught in time.
She was given antibiotics and made a full recovery.
Two years later I ran my first 10k in 38 minutes coming 15th out of 400
competitors. I also coach an under 19s football team and I am regular at my
local boxing club.