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Sue Howlett, Nantyglo, Gwent
"My mother Mona Taylor was diagnosed with pneumococcal meningitis for the first time aged 68 and again in August 2012 aged 69. My daughter found her in a very confused state, she was cold and shaking, and the paramedic thought she’d had a stroke. Only after a lumber puncture and CT scan was bacterial meningitis confirmed. Mum was sedated and on life support for about a week and through all of that time we didn’t know if she would wake up and even if she did what damage there may be? Mum did wake up and did go on to make what we thought was pretty much a full recovery and was back home within a couple of weeks. Unfortunately in August I received a call from her saying she felt really sick and had a blinding headache, she said 'Sue its coming back I can feel it'. I got to her house in about 10 minutes and phoned the hospital en route to say that I would be bringing her in and that it was suspected meningitis.
“By the time I got her to the hospital (15 mins down the road) I had to get a wheelchair to get her out of the car. Her deterioration was staggeringly quick. Mum luckily recovered again but it has they have discovered she has a problem, a gap in her inner ear is allowing fluid from her brain to be infected from her ear. She had an operation in December 2012 to try and spot anything reoccurring and so far so good, apart from her permanent hearing loss in that ear. What has struck me the most about this disease is how quickly it takes hold and how quickly treatment needs to be sought."
Joanne Ruiz, Cardiff
"My daughter Ellie has suffered meningitis twice – pneumococcal followed by group b meningitis just three months later. Luckily she had no long term effects, but for about six years after I would take her to hospital for a simple headache or temperature as you don't expect your child to get it once and definitely not twice."
Lucy Green, Cardiff
"When I contracted meningitis I took two paracetamol and went to bed. I woke up two days later in intensive care. Luckily our flat had discussed what to do if one of us didn't appear in the morning and raised the alarm. Through good care and determination I made a full recovery."
Brian Cavanagh - Dublin
“As a parent of a child who died from this devastating disease, I am reassured by the positive news that there’s now a vaccine that will help to eradicate Meningitis B. Although too late for Elizabeth, it is wonderful news that we now have a resource to stop this fast-moving disease in its tracks. At the time Elizabeth died, there was no vaccine that could have prevented her death. But there is hope now and I therefore urge the government to consider introducing this new vaccine as soon as possible.”
See Brian's story in full
John Brady - Ballina
“After having flu like symptoms over New Year, I went to my doctor who gave me an antibiotic and then on to Castlebar A & E department. By that stage I had blacked out; I awoke 3 days later in an isolation unit. I was later told a dark rash broke out on my stomach as I arrived at hospital. Apparently I owe my survival to a large dose of antibiotics given to me previously by my local doctor and to the hospital team who helped me to recover, with no lasting side effects. If there had been a vaccine to protect me against this frightening time in my life it would have been fantastic. I advise everyone to know the symptoms of the disease, seek medical help if necessary and urge the government to introduce new vaccines to protect people against this horrible disease as soon as possible”
Caroline Finnerty - Kildare
“When Tom got sick and the doctor said the word ‘meningitis’ I was shocked. It was such a surreal sensation. As a parent this is the one word you do not want to hear. Never in a million years when we brought him to hospital did I think we would be told my little boy, only 25 days old, and possibly his twin sister Bea too, had meningitis. It is every parent’s worst nightmare and I couldn’t believe I was facing it. All I could think of was ‘we have just been given these babies; there is no way I am letting meningitis take them away from us’. Thankfully we all came home again after six days but I am very aware that some parents aren’t so lucky and every day I am reminded of how fortunate I am.”
Geraldine Courtney - Enniscorthy
“I thank God when I think how lucky I was to survive meningitis. Before I got this illness I knew nothing about it or its symptoms or side effects. I thought it was a young people’s disease. Now I know anyone of any age can contract it. Meningitis happens so fast and in an instant your life and your family’s life can be changed forever. I lost hearing completely in my left ear and have a constant ringing in my head. I also have trouble sleeping at night so tiredness is still a major issue, as is the short term memory loss. However I have had great support from Meningitis Research Foundation and so I would like to help in any way I can to raise awareness of this terrible disease.”Read Geraldine's story in full
Mags Smart - Wexford
“My darling Ruairí lived for just 207 days. The Paediatrician at Temple Street told us that meningitis went through his brain like wildfire. As a mother it is heart breaking not knowing how or why your child came into to contact with this killer. But I’ve been channelling my negative energy into something positive by working with Meningitis Research Foundation to help raise awareness and fund research into the prevention and treatment of meningitis.”
Read Mags' story in full
Sandra Kinsella - Cavan
Sandra son Mark had meningitis age six.
Alan Smith - Loanhead
“I was aged 20 and on holiday with my friends in Tenerife when I began to feel unwell. At first I thought it was sunstroke – I had a fever and was feeling sick. My condition deteriorated quickly and I developed a heavy purple rash on both legs. I was admitted to hospital and diagnosed with bacterial meningitis and meningococcal septicaemia. I spent a week in intensive care, then was flow home to Scotland where I spent six weeks in St John’s Hospital in Livingston where I underwent four operations to repair the damage caused by the septicaemia. It was six months before I could return to work.”
Read Alan's story in full
Flora Neville, Biggar
“We were on holiday in London with and Edmund just wasn't quite right. I couldn't pinpoint exactly what we thought was wrong but as the afternoon progressed he got worse and we called NHS helpline, I spoke to a doctor and asked her to tell me where the nearest hospital was with a children’s A&E as I wanted him to be seen. Thankfully we had a very good doctor looking after us who just wasn't convinced he was ok. After a few hours of monitoring Edmund three tiny pinhead spots appeared on his calf which the doctor picked decided antibiotics may be a good idea, a route we decided to go down.
"Edmund was deteriorating fast and we were being admitted to an isolation unit and a consultant was talking about lumber punctures. I still shiver when I think what if he hadn't had medication in his system by that time, the consequence doesn't bear thinking about."
Frank Cusack - East Lothian
“Our little boy Adam fell ill on March 4th 2007. His symptoms were sickness and a slight temperature. After calling NHS24 we were dispatched to Roodlands Hospital in Haddington. Where Adam was diagnosed with a sickness bug and was sent home. The next day we could see things were not how they should be, he was virtually unresponsive and had a mottled grey marking on his skin. (this was not the usually red glass test markings one would expect ) Even the paramedic that first attended was perplexed by the strange markings. However, the decision to blue light him into the Sick Kids was taken, and not a moment too soon. Adam went straight to ICU and put into an induced coma due to meningitis and septicaemia. He remained in this state for five days. When they brought him round he was badly brain damaged seizing for 10 minutes at a time 12 times in the night. canThey induced a second coma to try and protect his brain. After day 11 he came round, paralysed down his left side and partially sighted but alive. The sick kids worked tirelessly for a further 7 weeks to restore him to the state he is in today. Adam has lost the lower left quadrant in both eyes due to the damage to the brain. He also has limited fine motor skills in his left hand side. He suffers from several different forms of epilepsy and has increased lethargy. He is however a tenacious funny and happy little boy. Who loves life and has an infectious personality that makes him hard not to instantly adore."
Gemma Baxter - Inverkeithing
“Matthew (then 13 months old) was quiet and had a temperature at 4pm. He started being sick at 6 pm and by 1am he was in hospital fighting for his life after collapsing in my arms and turning blue at the lips. He had lots of classic symptoms, but no rash, so meningitis was the last thing we suspected. The rash appeared when he was in hospital but by this point he was on antibiotics so we were able to reason that he was getting the best care. He had cannulas everywhere, they were taking his blood pressure every 15 minutes. His heart rate was 210 and his temperature on admission was 40.9. We were incredibly lucky - Matthew survived the illness with relatively few side effects. He has delayed expressive speech and suffered night terrors following his hospital stay. We are also in the process of discussing possible behavioural side effects with his Health Visitor, but other than that we have a gorgeous healthy happy boy with a laugh that lights up a room."
Helen McDougall - Dunblane
“I was scared witless when the spots first started to appear, then contacted the on- call doctor. Kayleigh was taken to hospital in an ambulance which made me think it was life threatening. She was in the isolation room on the children's ward, which really made me scared to see my 4 year old with so many tubes going into and out of her. I contacted the MRF helpline that first night and they calmed my fears, so I was able to focus on being a mum and being there for my daughter and not worry about the outcome. Kayleigh was on antibiotics for a week via drip and I had to take them as well, as a precaution. Thankfully Kayleigh survived, for which we will be eternally grateful."
Murdo Morrison - Wishaw
“At the age of 20 I was shore based with the Royal Navy in Malta. I led a fit and active life, but one morning I woke with a blinding headache. I have a vague memory of collapsing, and for the next three weeks or so I was lucid for brief periods and then sleep took over. Much later I was to find out that I had TB in both lungs plus meningitis. Treatment consisted of lumbar punctures for the meningitis on a daily basis where fluid was removed from my spine and streptomycin injected. I was flown back to the UK where I was treated for three months I was so fortunate to have an early diagnosis and prompt treatment. I am now in my seventies and have enjoyed a full and active life."
Read Murdo's story in full
Rebecca Duncan - Aberdeen
“Due to the non-specific symptoms, the G.P was unable to diagnose Connor (then 15 months) and we got told he had a virus. Only when I took him to A & E were bloods taken and he was found to have an infection and a lumbar puncture performed. They started him on IV antibiotics and he ended up with a central line and was in hospital for a month. Connor has been left with delayed speech and concentration and co-ordination problems, but is coming on in leaps and bounds. That said, I have had to fight hard for Connor to get additional support in the education system. From a mother’s perspective meningitis is difficult to diagnose and a mother’s instinct should be acted upon."
Sandra Grady - Renfrew
“Looking back, Katie had all the child like symptoms of meningitis but did NOT develop a rash even though the rash is a big part of people's perception of the disease. My partner and I took Katie to the out of hours emergency service, but were told nothing was wrong with her and just keep trying her with a bottle, even though she was being very sick and refusing her feed. I took Katie home but my gut feeling was of great alarm to her being unwell and knew there was just something not right with her, I kept saying to myself "I'm just panicking, she's seen a doctor and she'll be ok". That night I sat up with her, watching her just to make sure she would be ok. By morning I rushed her down to our doctors where my doctor phoned an ambulance to the surgery to take us straight to hospital. Katie only had around an hour to live as she was left so long. Thanks to the brilliant staff in the children's ward, Katie made a full recovery but for a while it was touch and go."
Sara and David MacIntosh - Blantyre
“Our son Fraser contracted meningococcal septicaemia when he was 13 months old. Fraser woke up around 4.30am, we went to check him and give him some Calpol and noticed he had a dirty nappy. This nappy saved Fraser's life. I changed him in the dark except for the hall light and noticed a big purple mark on his side. I could see him turning grey before my eyes. The hospital staff were waiting for us when we arrived and a paediatric team of four were sent for from Yorkhill Children’s Hospital. We felt so grateful for all the people involved in saving Fraser's life that even now I cannot put into proper words how thankful we are. I look at him every day and I have no idea how he survived. We are so lucky and I never forget that, not for one second."
Tara Tierney - Carnoustie
"After a year of follow-up appointments Daisy was discharged and she doesn't seem to be suffering any side effects from the brain damage, has regained full movement in the side affected by the stroke and hasn't had any seizures. I am so thankful that my daughter is still with us and has recovered so well. She is our whole world, the most friendly, affectionate child anyone has ever met."
Read Tara's story in full
Jamie and Tracci Stephenson - Kilmarnock
"Our daughter Casey contracted HIB meningitis when she was four years old and has been left profoundly deaf. She was initially paralysed down her right side and had to learn to walk again. The speech area of her brain was also affected and she required a burr hole operation to remove fluid, and then underwent intensive speech, occupational and physiotherapy, alongside intense audiology to establish the level of her deafness. She decided on cochlear implant in July 2011, missing the beginning of her first year of high school. Unfortunately the implant failed in April 2013 and she went for re-implant surgery in May 2013."
Yvonne Gilmour - Wishaw
“I am mum to Ellis who is now 8 years old. He contracted pneumococcal meningitis as a baby of 13 weeks old and thankfully pulled through. Although he has been left profoundly deaf in both ears, has Epilepsy and other development disabilities – he wears 2 cochlear Implants and attends Donaldson’s School in Linlithgow. Obviously we as parents were devastated that he had meningitis and still struggle today with thinking how different a boy he would be if he had not had the disease and worry about how he copes with his disabilities, but he is a very cheeky & lovable wee boy who we wouldn’t change for the world."
Tanya Wright - Forres
“Callum was 16 months old.. He had awoken with a temperature and was out of sorts. I decided to take him to the out of hours doctor who thought it might be an ear infection and gave me some antibiotics to start the next day if he did not improve. Then his temperature kept going up and he started to fit in my arms. I called an ambulance and they took us to hospital. Whilst waiting to go to the ward, Callum stopped breathing. He was taken to another room and I went with him.. His heart stopped and they resuscitated him. He started breathing again. He had scans and they discovered he had meningitis. He was in intensive care for 5 days. In hospital for 3 weeks altogether, Callum had Pneumococcal meningitis and septicaemia. We were unsure of how he would be affected but today he is a healthy growing boy. Callum has made a full recovery and we have not identified any after effects to this date. As a family we are very aware of the importance of identifying the signs of. Callum is now 9 years old and leading a full and active life.
Michael Adamson - Donaghadee
“My nephew Dylan was only 3 years old when he contracted meningitis B in 2006. He was very seriously ill, but thankfully pulled through. On leaving hospital we were very aware that he didn’t seem to be able to hear anything, but were still shocked to be told he was profoundly deaf in both ears. Dylan has cochlear implants in both ears and has adjusted well to his situation. He is now in P7 at Donaghadee Primary School and continues to lead the normal life of a very lively boy. He loves sport and plays football for Bangor Rangers, enjoys cycling, tennis and wants to take up boxing. We are very proud of all he has achieved."
Stephan Alexander - Greyabbey
“I contracted meningitis in 2009 while on holiday in Northern Spain. It was terribly traumatic – most people think only children get meningitis and so do not really appreciate this can happen to adults too – I was 43 at the time. My family were amazed by how quickly the disease took hold, one minute I was feeling unwell with what I thought was ‘man flu’ and the next thing I was seriously ill – my wife was actually told to prepare herself for the worst as the prognosis was not good. Thankfully I recovered and after a month was able to travel back to NI. I had severe physical and physiological difficulties and at this stage I believed I may not be able to return to a normal working life. With all the help I was receiving from all my family, friends and MRF and having a positive mental attitude I began the push towards "getting better". I needed a focus which I could easily map my progress and to this end I flung myself into rearing Dexter Cattle. They were small enough to handle in my weakened state and I could watch them in a paddock from the comfort of my home. These cattle hold a very special place in my heart and are more than just a commercial product to me. As an aid to recovery and good health I recommend rearing and showing Dexter Cattle, they gave me a focus which was badly needed at my more poorly times."
Maureen Ellson - Dundonald
“David was just two and a half years old when meningitis and septicaemia claimed his short life. He was a healthy and happy boy who within one day of contracting Meningitis B tragically died. As an Ambassador for Meningitis Research foundation I will make sure my local community know what to look out for - if I can get the message across, it might help to save a life. I don’t want other people having to experience what I’ve gone through.”Read Maureen's story in full
Maureen is an MRF Ambassador
Melanie Irwin - Bush
“My son Harley was only 21 months when he contracted Meningitis B last year. He was very seriously ill, but thankfully pulled through. Harley had hardly any of the symptoms – just a high temperature and feeling unwell. There was no rash or blotches on his skin. I want people to get the message ‘if in doubt – get it checked out’, even if that might seem over-cautious. This horrific disease had already devastated our family – my nephew Thomas died from Meningitis B just five years ago –it is every parent’s worst nightmare and I couldn’t believe my family was facing it for a second time! Meningitis and septicaemia are diseases you never expect to happen, but when they strike they can be devastating not just for the person who falls sick, but for all their loved ones, family and friends. That’s why I’m supporting Meningitis Awareness Week. Everyone needs to know about these diseases.”
“Meningitis and septicaemia are diseases that you never expect to happen, but when they strike they are devastating not just for the person who falls sick, but for all their loved ones, family and friends. My sister Tracey died and that is why I am supporting Meningitis Awareness Week. Everyone needs to know about the dangers of these diseases.
North East England: Northumberland, County Durham, Tyne and Wear and Tees Valley
Sue Fishburn - Darlington, County Durham
"Within a few hours of first feeling unwell my son Ben was on life support where he remained for 10 days, he was in hospital for three weeks and the whole recovery took six months before he was able to return to work. Thankfully he had no after effects but I am keen to get the message across that this awful disease strikes so quickly."
Sue is an MRF AmbassadorJill Jones - Bownburn, County Durham
"When my son Robbie was ill the doctor said it was one of the worst cases he had ever seen. As a result Robbie had to have both legs amputated and his fingertips have fallen off. We had heard about meningitis but had never seen the effects it could have."
Jill is an MRF AmbassadorRead Jill and Robbie's story in fullJon Moses - Haswell, County Durham
"This was the most terrifying time of my life, nearly losing three sisters within 24hours. This disease strikes so quickly, one minute we were at a Blur concert and within hours my sister Linzi could not walk and had a rash all over her body. All three sisters thankfully recovered and now have moved on to have children of their own.”
Keith Newman - Morpeth, Northumberland
"Our family have had 3 cases of meningitis to deal with in the past, my daughter Amy, now 20 contracted meningitis in 1994 when she was just three years old, my son James (13) also developed the disease in 1999 when he was just 3 months old and my niece Daisy was also affected when she was small. We have been lucky not to lose anyone but I know from experience others who have and that has made me determined to help others as best as I can."
Keith is an MRF Ambassador
Ken Robinson - Hougton-le-Spring, Tyne and Wear
"My son Glenn deteriorated so quickly that everyone needs to know the symptoms so they can get medical help as soon as possible. I am honoured to be asked to represent this important charity and at such a special time. Meningitis Awareness Week is the main time of the year to spread the word about the symptoms, and to raise money so MRF can continue to funding research and supporting people affected by the diseases."
Ken is an MRF Ambassador
North West England: Cumbria, Lancashire, Great Manchester, Merseyside, Cheshire
Christine Etheridge - Sale, Cheshire
"My son Ben contracted meningitis in 2004 at the age of three. He was critically ill in hospital for eight weeks but fortunately recovered and is doing really well. He is now 11 but still having ongoing treatment and operations on his legs due to the damage the illness caused."
Christine is an MRF Ambassador.Rachel and Neale Vickery - Widnes, Cheshire
"We awoke early one morning to find our 14-month old son Ryan covered in a rash and experiencing symptoms such as cold hands and feet and lethargy so sought immediate medical attention. After an emergency life saving medical evacuation to Miami Children’s Hospital and three weeks in intensive care and high dependency unit, Ryan thankfully made a fully recovery. Whilst our experience was traumatic, we feel so fortunate that we were aware of the initial tell tale symptoms and were able to act quickly and obtain highly skilled medical attention to save his life."
Rachel and Neale are MRF AmbassadorsKathleen Hawkins - Manchester
"I fell ill with Group B meningococcal septicaemia when in my first term at university. I collapsed in my flat and my flatmates called an ambulance. I spent four months in hospital and had to have both legs amputated and was on kidney dialysis.”
Kathleen is an MRF Ambassador.See Kathleen's story in fullAnna Barnes - Chester, Cheshire
"Dad was a fit, active and healthy 64 year old. On 18th January this year he had a very painful stiff neck and over the next few days suffered severe muscular pains and flu type symptoms. He saw a GP on Wednesday 23rd January and was prescribed painkillers (she diagnosed a virus). On Sunday 27th he was prescribed different painkillers.
"On Monday 28th he woke up with a severe headache and was sick so he returned to see a different GP. That GP thought he should go into hospital for a chest x-ray as he thought there may be a bacterial infection. Mum was going to drive Dad to hospital but once they arrived home the doctor phoned to say that he had called an ambulance to collect Dad as he thought it would make his journey more comfortable; it was all still considered fairly routine at this stage though. After a couple of hours or so in hospital one of the doctors was concerned that Dad seemed confused and he was sent for a brain scan. On the way in to have the scan he slipped into a coma and he never regained consciousness. By the time I arrived at hospital at about 5pm his pupils were not responding to light.
"The hospital (Countess of Chester) tried everything they could but he was finally pronounced dead at 5pm on Wednesday 30th January. So many people I have spoken to since Dad's death have been so shocked when I have said it was meningitis - the normal reaction is along the lines of, 'I thought only children got that.'"Anne Glendinning - Carlisle, Cumbria
"Our daughter Sally was a fit healthy young girl with a bubbly personality full of fun and loved life. She took ill with a sore throat and fever which the out of hours doctor diagnosed as flu. The next evening Sally had been sick, had an awful bad head and didn't like the light. She was talking gibberish, had a completely blank expression and was thrashing about. She was taken to Cumberland Infirmary where they worked all night to try to save her life but couldn't work a miracle. Sally lost her fight for life aged 17. We love and miss her so very much."Kim Brown - Carlisle, Cumbria
Olivia contracted meningitis when she was two in 2006, with no other signs or symptoms other than being a little off colour. She very quickly became seriously ill and it is only because I slept with her that night (as I always did when Olivia was ill) and the skill of the paramedics and staff at Carlisle and Newcastle that she survived. We spent over a month in hospital with Olivia. Her organs failed and her heart stopped. We thought we had lost her. The doctors battled to save her and stop the spread of the deadly septicaemia which was slowly turning her limbs black. She survived but as a result both legs and her left arm below the elbow had to be amputated to save her lifeAmelia Ikin - Bolton, Greater Manchester
Amelia's son, Toby, had Group meningococcal disease when he was three years old.
"Toby became poorly like a really bad case of flu but still himself sat up watching TV, eating well etc. He became very lethargic and sleepy and was sleeping longer than usual, I knew it wasn't just a cold/virus; I had a bad feeling it was something else. The previous year he had pneumonia and thought it could have been that again as it was similar symptoms." Karen and Nick Crockatt - Leyland, Lancashire
"Our daughter Sofia contracted meningococcal septicaemia in February 2007 when she was just two years old. Sofia had been suffering with a flu bug, but it didn’t seem too serious, and she had been up in the middle of the night feeling sickly, but still playing with her toys. The next day when we went in to see her, she was almost motionless in her cot, and she was red hot, and started with what is known as the ‘purple rash’ on her legs. We knew something was wrong, so her older brother Dom called for an ambulance, and she was rushed to Royal Preston Hospital. They worked on her for about four or five hours to make her stable, and it was literally touch and go. Then she was transferred to a hospital in Manchester, and was in intensive care for just short of two weeks. The disease meant that her blood flow was cut off to her legs. We had to make the decision to have her left leg amputated below the knee to try and help her survive whilst doctors fought to save her right leg. The while family are now Ambassadors for meningitis Research Foundation and Sofia is the first ever Junior Ambassador and takes her responsibilities very seriously."
Karen, Nick and Sofia are MRF AmbassadorsMeray Breeze - Leigh, Lancashire
"My son Jordan contracted meningitis and septicaemia in November 2003 when he was just four years old. He was so ill he was transferred to a hospital with a paediatric intensive care unit. Thankfully though he did survive but had to learn to walk and talk again and still to this day suffers from tiredness and behavioural after affects."Ruth Hill - Bolton, Lancashire
"My sister Anne died just a week after her 18th birthday. She became critically ill with septicaemia and was left fighting for her life in intensive care just days after the first signs of illness. Tragically, Anne did not wake up. I am honoured to be an Ambassador for Meningitis Research Foundation. Fundraising in my sister’s memory and raising awareness about meningitis and septicaemia means Anne’s tragic death wasn’t in vain."
Ruth is an MRF AmbassadorSue Waring - St Helens, Lancashire
"Four doctors ignored me and also my son’s symptoms. Cieran has been left devastating after effects including profound deafness, cerebral atrophy and epilepsy."See Sue's story in fullJean Stoiles - Accrington, Lancashire
Jean's five year old daughter, Melanie, died from meningitis and septicaemia in 1992.
"I can remember every detail about it. The hospital even the mistake of the wrong death, they told me it was a brain haemorrhage, we only found out it was meningitis by having a post mortem. How healthy Melanie was. She died within eight hours."Caroline Holohan - Burnage, Manchester
"I had only ever heard of this terrible disease through the media and thought it affected mainly children. My son Simon was 20 years old, so you can imagine the shock and trauma it brought to our family. I thought he could be made to get better but after three days on life support we had to take the horrendous decision to turn the machines off."Read Caroline's story in fullJennie Day - Charlton, Manchester
"I was eight months pregnant, when I went to the GP with a cough and earache. Two days later, I fell into a coma at home. I was rushed to A&E and regained full consciousness eight days later. I didn't know that I had already become a mum, to a healthy baby girl. Our survival still feels like a miracle made possible by the NHS."Martyn Preston - Bredbury, Stockport
"I contracted meningococcal septicaemia in 2000. I spent seven weeks sedated in intensive care and three and a half weeks on a ward. I was extremely lucky I didn’t lose any limbs, I wasn’t left with severe or disabling after-effects and most of all I am still alive. Other people are not that lucky."
Martyn is an MRF AmbassadorRead Martyn's story in fullAmanda Hull - Golborne, Lancashire
"I didn’t realise I had meningococcal septicaemia, I just felt like I had really bad flu with an unbearable headache. By the time we got to our walk-in centre I couldn’t walk properly, my lips were blue, my fingers completely white, and I was having trouble putting sentences together – within just two hours of waking up and noticing a very odd rash. The quick thinking of the staff at the centre saved my life; I spent ten days in hospital and am now on the road to recovery. I have to wear hearing aids in both ears, but it could have been so much worse."Caron Clegg - Rochdale, Greater Manchester
"I contracted meningitis at 3 months old in 1967. I then had hydrocephalus at 11 months old. I have side effects from the disease which include memory loss, difficulty retaining information, lack of concentration, clumsiness, co-ordination problems, learning difficulties, loss of balance, weakness of muscles which has caused me to suffer with fibrocytis since 1999. I also have had changes in sight and have had two operations for squints when I was younger."Alia Mumtaz - Liverpool
"My Dad had a stroke in October 2012, which was caused by an angiogram. After this, his health went downhill and he was in and out of hospitals. He went into Middlesex hospital for the last time at the end on January 2013, after a week or so, he was transferred to Charing Cross Hospital in Hammersmith. Throughout December and January he had been complaining about his feet, but we couldn't see anything, we asked nurses and doctors to have a look and they prescribed him with some aqueous cream. On the 9th of February my brother visited my Dad and noticed his feet looked blotchy and the colour was changing rapidly, he alerted the nurses and doctors once again, on the 10th of February, my brother was told Dad had septicaemia, they would try to treat it with antibiotics, but advised him to call family members, as they didn't think the antibiotics would work. The medication did not work and doctors advised us there was nothing more they could do. My father passed away on the 23rd of February 2013, 3 days before his 70th birthday. They fitted a pump that released pain relief on a regular basis, so they made him as comfortable as he could be, but it was a horrid way to lose him. I hope something can be done so no one has to go through what my family went through."
Yorkshire and the Humber: Yorkshire and Lincolnshire (part of)
Kerrie Sharpe - Pontefract, Yorkshire
"The day they amputated my daughter Danielle's right foot, all her toes on the left foot, right index finger and the tip of the little finger on her right hand was the most emotionally destroying day in our lives. I will rage against what this disease did to her for the rest of my life but we still have our girl, and for that we must be eternally grateful. Some families are not so lucky."Read Kerrie's story in full
Joy Lane - Huddersfield, Yorkshire
"My son George suffered meningitis three times when he was six years old but it was the last things in our minds when he fell ill a month before his 18th birthday. He became delirious, and incoherent so we called the ambulance service, who administered antibiotics and a lumbar puncture confirmed a fourth episode of this dreadful disease. George once again made a full recovery and although we will never be completely free from the fear of this returning he is as protected as he can be and determined to lead a normal life."See George's story in full
Andrea Walker - Keighley
"Even though Ellie is no longer with us, if I can get the message across, it might save another life. I don’t want other people having to experience what I’ve gone through. What we still don’t understand is Ellie had hardly any of the symptoms – just a fever and a runny nose. There was no rash or blotches on her skin. I want people to get the message ‘if in doubt – get it checked out’, even if that might seem over-cautious.”
Alli Agar - Redcar, Yorkshire
"Our baby son George was critically ill with pneumococcal meningitis for about three weeks. We naively thought he just had a cold or flu. Thankfully my mum, a retired nurse, realised from the vague symptoms he was experiencing that something was seriously wrong and called 999. George had several set-backs in hospital but has gone on to make a full recovery."
Read Alli's story in full
Hilary Nightingale - York
"Louis had not been his usual self one afternoon. He was tired and very hot and his mum Karin decided to take him to York Hospital where he was admitted and monitored. At 11pm she discovered a rash on his arm and the staff spent most of the night trying to figure out what Louis had got. At 4am I was called to the hospital where Louis was in intensive care, unfortunately Louis had one of the worst types of meningitis and they weren’t able to save him and he died that morning. Louis would have turned 13 on 18th September we still miss him terribly, and it's so important for everyone to know about this disease and how quickly it can strike."
Vanessa Brooks - Sheffield
"We were told that Megan had been very sick and had we not got her there so quickly she probably would not have survived. My heart goes out to those people who have not been as lucky as us. I have always been aware of meningitis but until I actually experienced it did not fully appreciate what a terrible disease it is, and how quickly it strikes."
Read Vanessa's story in full
Carol Bally - Sheffield
My son Daniel contracted meningitis and septicaemia in 2011 "when he was four months old. He awoke at midnight with breathing difficulties, we dialled 999 straight away and when arriving at hospital a lumbar puncture confirmed that he had E coli meningitis with septicaemia. Fortunately they had caught it early and Daniel was on antibiotics for three weeks and made a good recovery, but has subsequently been found to have slight hearing problems which has also impacted on his speech."
Read Carol's story in full
Janet Crowther - Sheffield
Rachael was taken ill and the Thursday night (23rd July 1998) it was flu like symptoms but by 7 o’clock that night I was worried and took her to the Hallamshire hospital. "They went through various things and decided to keep her in overnight. The next day we went to the hospital and mid morning Rachael complained of a discomfort behind her Knee. This was a ‘bruise’ which I told the staff about – they immediately went into action and that she was suffering from meningitis - it was the first sign of the disease. They said that her condition was deteriorating and they put her on life support – it was however too late and she passed away around five o.clock – 24 hours after she had complained of being unwell- we were devastated she was a very fit young woman and things like this should not have happened."
Read Janet's story in full
Janice Driffield - Barnsley
"My partner Patrick contracted pneumococcal meningitis at the age of 62 years whilst we are on holiday in Portugal in May 2012. He was sick, and getting more and more delirious before collapsing on the bedroom floor. A friend picked him up in his arms put him in his car and we drove him to the local private hospital. A doctor told us in broken English, that he was very concerned and that he it could be meningitis so Patrick was sent in an emergency ambulance to Portimao Hospital. When we arrived they carried out a lumbar puncture, confirmed it was meningitis and he was transferred to their Intensive Care Unit and started treatment. The next few days were a nightmare. I was told by the doctors that I should prepare myself for the fact that Patrick would not survive. He was in a deep coma, intubated and seemed to be a mass of wires, tubes and machines. Our children and his brother flew out to us – we were all in a state of complete shock. Against all odds, Patrick began to come out of the coma and it was decided to fly him back, by air ambulance, to the UK. He was transferred to Barnsley ITU on 9 June and then moved to the Neuro Rehabilitation Unit at Kendray Hospital a month later but by the end of September they felt that they had done all they could for him and we decided that he should be at home. Since he has been home he has made some major improvements. He still has no vision and has severe short term memory problems but can hold a conversation and carry out simple tasks (such as dressing himself, washing pots) but needs close supervision and 24/7 care. Meningitis has totally changed our lives but with the support of family and friends we are getting on with life."
Sarah Walsh - Sheffield
"Although Lily wouldn't eat for the next 24 hours the nurses were pleased with her development. On Sunday we received the results of Lily's blood test. My world fell apart when I discovered she had meningitis. The Doctors stressed the importance of how fast I had acted when seeking medical advice. Since Lily had started eating and drinking and her temperature had returned to normal they discharged her with the condition of us returning back to hospital everyday so Lily could receive her antibiotics through her cannula."
Simon Robertson - Bradford
"I contracted meningococcal meningitis and septicaemia in 2006 at the age of 49 and as a result lost all the toes on one foot, 3 toes on the other foot and my right heel now contains scar tissue. All these contribute to making walking difficult. I don't think I really understood how ill I had been for some time after I had come out of hospital. After leaving hospital I started to realise how much my world and that of my family had fallen apart and our lives had changed forever."
Read Simon's story in full
Ian Wilkinson - Bradford
"My son Kyle was 18 months old when he died of pneumococcal Meningitis on June 1st 1999. He’d had a cold for a few days but nothing out of the ordinary for an 18 month old baby. We took him to A&E in Halifax just to get him checked out and the doctor said it was just a cold and the usual Calpol and plenty of fluids should help. The next morning I couldn't wake Kyle and as I reached into his cot, I noticed his lips were turning blue. I quickly started mouth to mouth as his breathing was very shallow and he was limp and unresponsive. I ran to the phone and an ambulance soon arrived. Kyle was taken to A&E where he was stabilized before being transferred to Leeds General Infirmary. When we got to LGI the doctors told us that he was stable and they had a few checks and tests to carry out but didn't know what was wrong. Over the course of the next 12-14 hours we waited and were eventually told at about 2am that Kyle was not responding to treatment and that some brain stem tests had been carried out indicating that it was the machine he was hooked up to that was keeping him alive. We spent another hour with him before saying goodbye. The machine was switched off and he died in my arms. We spent a few more hours with him before leaving on what was, a beautiful sunny morning. We went back to the LGI to be told that they had grown the culture from samples and confirmed Kyle had died of pneumococcal meningitis."
Vikki Waldie - Wakefield
"Once we were in Hospital the doctors immediately started treating Thomas for all forms of Meningitis. He was diagnosed with bacterial meningitis after the bloods showed growth of the bacteria a few days after he was admitted. Thomas was treated for a week in hospital and we stayed with him. Whilst in hospital after his treatment had started Thomas began to get the septicaemia rash in a few places, but after the treatment finished this disappeared."
Melinda Lancaster - Catterick, Yorkshire
"Our daughter Amelia contracted meningitis and septicaemia at 10 months old and they told us she wouldn't make it past the first 24 hours. She pulled through and we spent two months by her hospital while she recovered. They thought she would lose both her legs and one arm below the elbow but they managed to save everything apart from her fingers. Even though she has recovered it is an almost daily struggle to deal with the after effects of this devastating disease. Amelia starts school in September and I hope she will make lots of new friends who will accept the fact that she’s a little bit different to them."See Melinda's story in full
West Midlands: Shropshire, Staffordshire, West Midlands, Warwickshire, Worcestershire, Herefordshire
Julie Woodhouse - Kenilworth, Warwickshire
"Sally started to feel unwell on the Friday evening, but it didn’t appear serious. But during the early hours of Sunday morning Sally felt sick and said she needed to go to hospital. Whilst waiting to be transferred to the children’s ward she fell asleep and didn’t wake up again. I felt that the events were all happening to someone else, another family, not mine. Nobody could believe that someone as healthy as Sally could have died so quickly – it was unbelievable. Everyone who knew Sally loved her! She was beautiful, vivacious and fun-loving. We all miss her so much and always will. We feel that it is unbelievable what has happened to us and can’t believe that in this century children and teenagers are dying from this disease.”Read Julie's story in full
Grant Dixon - Harborne, Birmingham
"My wife realised that Oliver was unwell and in distress during the night as he had unusual high pitched wail. She took him to the doctors the following morning and a sharp minded trainee doctor picked up the symptoms and suggested we go straight to Birmingham Children’s Hospital. When we got there, there was a team waiting for us and they performed a lumbar puncture to confirm he had meningitis. The first 24 hours were touch and go and we then spent 10 days in isolation but luckily he pulled through with no after affects."
Jo Lofting - Hereford
"My son Jack was extremely sleepy and couldn’t be woken so we called the doctor and on their arrival a rash started to appear under the skin. Jack was transferred to Guys hospital in London where he spent 16 days in hospital, three of which were in intensive care. Jack has had to deal with a lot of after effects including epilepsy, global developmental delay and has the mental age of a two year old, is non verbal and unable to eat and drink properly."
See Jo's story in full
Lesley Hart - Hereford
"I spent ten days in hospital when I fell ill with meningitis. I have been left with many after effects including tinnitus, headaches, balance, sleep and memory problems, which I am having to learn to live with."
See Lesley's story in full
Emma Parkinson - Stoke-on-Trent
"When my son Liam fell ill at nursery we took him to A&E where we spent four hours with Liam, unconscious the whole time. We were sent home having been told it was a viral rash but just hours later he was rushed back in an ambulance suffering meningococcal septicaemia. Luckily he seems to have made a full recovery. He really is my beautiful little miracle!"
Karen Dunnaway - Rowley Regis, West Midlands
Sarah Morris - Wolverhampton, West Midlands
"My daughter Ellie had meningococcal septicaemia in February 2006 she was 5 and a half. It came on very quickly and before we knew it she was in intensive care fighting for her life and we didn’t think she would make it. We were aware that she would suffer limb loss and it was heart breaking but at least she would still be with us. Nothing could prepare me for when I went into recovery and saw half of my baby missing and every time she went to theatre she would come back with less and less of her beautiful body. Ellie lost both her legs her right arm to her elbow and all the fingers in her left hand. Despite this she made a fantastic recovery am was back in school by September. She now an amazing 13 year old girl living her life, riding her horse every day, doing her make up just like a normal 13 year old."
"My daughter's name is Ella Morris, she is now five, but contracted meningitis at 14 months old. She had meningococcal meningitis. She didn't really show symptoms for meningitis she was just very drowsy, we came back on the Thursday from getting married in Cyprus, then had a party on the Saturday night where Ella just slept, got up Sunday and she was still sleepy so took her to walk in centre where they rushed us in an ambulance to hospital. Was then confirmed meningitis, the rash came on the Monday. We then spent 2 weeks in hospital."
Jane Robinson - Bredon, Worcestershire
"My football-mad five-year-old son became unwell with
flu-like symptoms which quickly developed into him being covered in
purple bruise-like spots, his breathing very shallow, his hands and feet
very cold. He remained in intensive care for several weeks with
meningococcal septicaemia. He made a complete recovery and thankfully
avoided amputation of his hands and feet. Although skin grafts have left
him very scarred he is now 20 years old, still football mad and very
fit and healthy."
Lynn Bayliss - Rugby, Warwickshire
"At no time did we ever think there was anything serious wrong – let alone the fact it could be meningitis. We have never felt as helpless as parents and it was very difficult for us to understand and comprehend the seriousness of the illness. Jacob remained in hospital for nearly three weeks and ‘touch wood’ he has no lasting effects although he is still very young and the effects may show a little later in his life."Read Lynn's story in full
East Midlands: Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Linconshire (part of), Leicestershire, Rutland, Northamptonshire
Kevin and Sara Peach - Swadlincote, Derbyshire
Kevin and Sara lost their daughter to meningococcal septicaemia.
"What started off as seemingly a normal winter bug escalated into something so much more serious in such a short space of time. Everyone did everything they could to save our daughter Katie's life but sadly it was not meant to be. She spent one day short of two weeks fighting meningococcal septicaemia before she passed away with her family around her."
Lucy Foster - Chellaston, Derbyshire
"My daughter Charlotte contracted Group B meningococcal meningitis and septicaemia when she was 2 in 2011. She became unwell with what appeared to be a sickness bug, after a day I spoke to NHS Direct who told me to see my GP and we were sent to hospital with suspected swine flu. Further tests were done and they said it was probably a water infection and sent us home. Charlotte seemed to get worse by the hour and the next day she was deathly pale and it was hard to rouse her from her constant sleepiness.
We went back to the hospital and a student doctor in A&E examined her and seemed panicked by her breathing and unusual cry, within seconds we were crowded with nurses and doctors flushing fluids through her, hooking her up to machines and drips, a lumbar puncture was done and she was rushed up to intensive care. Charlotte spent 2 weeks in hospital and learnt to walk again quickly and seemed to have no lasting effects but a few weeks later she developed vacant seizures which are still being investigated to this day. The silver lining of the story is that in recent tests for the seizures holes in the heart and deformed valves have been discovered which untreated would have progressed to heart failure and could have gone unnoticed. Charlotte is now awaiting open heart surgery at Leicester!”
Georgia Elms - Market Harborough, Leicestershire
"My husband Jonathan contracted pneumococcal meningitis in 2006 at the age of 38 years and sadly died. He has been suffering from tonsillitis and went to bed as normal. He woke me in the middle of the night and was delirious and vomiting. I called an ambulance and they rushed him to hospital. They had to sedate him and he never came round – and died 4 hours after arriving at the hospital. The tragedy of it all is that I was pregnant with our second child and only found out after he had died and I had to be given antibiotics against pneumococcal meningitis.
Natalie Nel - Rushden, Northamptonshire
Natalie lost her young son Jayden to meningococcal disease.
"Jayden was a happy, energetic little boy who loved life. He was never really poorly. Then on the evening of 6th December 2012 he went to sleep at 8:30. He woke up at 10:30 crying of leg pain. I thought it was because we had walked into town that day. I took him to my bed so that I could keep an eye on him. He woke up again at about 12:30am throwing up. That I just put down to a sickness bug as there was a bug going around and he had that before. He also had a temperature. He was sick on and off all night. I woke up at about 7:30am and noticed a rash all over his body. It wasn't a rash that I had ever seen before. It looked like little bruises. I phoned my friend to come and have a look at it for me. And when she got there she said that we needed to take him to A&E. We left straight away. On the way to the hospital Jayden stopped responding and started fitting so we stopped and my friend phoned for an ambulance.
When they came Jayden was still breathing but not responding. On the way to the hospital they wouldn't tell me if he was going to be ok. When they called into the hospital and said it was suspected meningitis my heart nearly stopped. At that point I didn't know much about it but I knew it wasn't good. When we got to the hospital his heart stopped but they bought him back. The doctors at the hospital did everything they could but Jayden couldn't fight it anymore and died by about 10AM.
It felt like our world came to an end and we weren't sure what we were gonna do. I decided to throw myself into fundraising to try and help save the lives of others. With help from my friends and family we have raised over £7k so far and I will continue to raise money. If it could just save one person's life then something good can come out of this tragedy and Jayden will be a little hero.
We miss Jayden so much and always will. I still feel like there is a big hole in my life that I just can't seem to fill.
I have also become an ambassador for the meningitis research foundation and am currently doing a petition to include the vaccine for Men B in the Childhood Immunisation Schedule, which I plan on sending to my local MP."
Natalie is an MRF Ambassador.
Tom Jeffries - Staverton, Northamptonshire
Tom's son Reuben has pneumococcal meningitis when he was nearly two.
"In June 2012 my son Ruben (then 19 months old) contracted Pneumococcal Meningitis (despite being vaccinated), following stabilisation and sedation at Coventry A&E, he was transferred to Leicester Children's Hospital where he spent 5 days in Intensive Care, on life support, and then 3 weeks on a High Dependency ward. Thankfully, with assistance, he has physically recovered and is now a very happy 2 year old toddler enjoying the 'terrible two's'! Only time will tell if there are other issues we have to contend with. Two very traumatised parents at the time, continued to breathe and hope beyond what the medical staff could diagnose/prognose and now feel extremely grateful and proud of our son. We are also acutely aware that we were lucky and our situation could have been so much different, and sadly is for other families."Read Tom's story in full
Avril Bartley-Smith - Kettering, Northamptonshire
Avril's son, Simon, was ill with meningococcal septicaemia.
"When my son Simon fell ill I called the MRF helpline and was advised to get help quickly. Our neighbour, a GP, acted instantly and injected him with antibiotics. The hospital crash team were on standby when we arrived as meningococcal septicaemia was developing rapidly. He spent five days on a life support system had a happy ending. He survived and leads a normal very active life."
Fliss Shilling - Kirkby in Ashfield, Nottinghamshire
"My son Jamie contracted Meningococcal septicaemia in 1995 when he was 5 years old. Luckily due to glass tumbler test publicity and the diligence of our GP Jamie was diagnosed quickly and has gone on the make a full recovery. I think it is really important to diagnose this dreadful disease as early as possible."
Fliss is an MRF Ambassador
Dr Jen Deakin - Retford, Nottinghamshire
"Catching meningococcal meningitis at 46 years of age and surviving it was no mean feat. But being an independent woman, losing your hearing and balance, being unable to walk or do things for yourself was devastating. However, things are very different now. How to get across to other sufferers that with hard work, heaps of motivation and determination, you may be able to achieve the impossible, I did!"
Sue Ashwin - Rutland
"My twin boys were just two when they were both admitted to hospital on the same day with meningitis - Johnny with meningococcal septicaemia and Alex with viral. They were in isolation for 10 days and thankfully both recovered. They are now 18 and lead full, sporting lives – Alex starts university in September and is running the London Marathon for MRF next year and Johnny is taking a year out to travel."
East of England: Essex, Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Norfolk and Suffolk
Paul Wadeson - Shefford, Bedfordshire
Paul had pneumococcal meningitis.
"On 25 March 2011 I was suffering from severe headaches so went to my local hospital but was discharged later that morning. My fiancée was about to go away for her hen weekend, but she popped in to check on me and found me in a semi-conscious state and I was taken back to hospital in an ambulance. I was diagnosed with pneumococcal meningitis and induced into a coma for three days. I spent two weeks in hospital and the meningitis caused a stroke, which has affected my vision in my left eye but to be honest I feel lucky to have survived”
Read Paul’s story in full
Izzy Fewster - Billericay, Essex
Izzy had meningococcal disease.
"I felt really unwell and luckily my mum recognised the symptoms so took me to the GP. He suspected meningitis, gave a shot of penicillin and sent me straight to hospital. Today I am happy and healthy 16 year old who has no after effects from meningitis but many sufferers are not nearly as lucky."Read Izzy's story in full
Jeff Pullinger - Hornchurch, Essex
Jeff had the rare W135 strain of meningococcal meningitis.
"My meningitis story begins in March 2004. I was in my first year of university when I began to feel very strange on a weekend visit home. I suspected I had food poisoning but little did I know what was in store for me. Two days later I was lying on the sofa almost dead. Luckily my GP recognised the symptoms over the phone and told my mum to call an ambulance for suspected meningitis. He saved my life. I had meningococcal meningitis (the rare W135 strain) and septicaemia. During the next few hours I lost my health forever. I am now partially deaf and wear hearing aids, have balance problems, a constant headache, tinnitus and other problems which I don’t want to go in to. On the positive side I am lucky to be alive. All the doctors thought I would die or at the least have severe brain damage, blindness or/and amputations. I have none of these so am, in a strange way, very lucky.
I managed to go back to university a year and a half later to finish my degree whilst I was still ill/recovering. I also travelled around Africa and did a 10,000 foot skydive for the Meningitis Research Foundation. Looking back I don’t know how I managed all this to be honest. I not only had to adapt to being a deaf person and how I am now but also had to adapt to studying as a deaf person. I had very good support from family and friends which helped me a lot.
Six years on I just climbed Mount Toubkal (4167m) in Morocco for the Meningitis Research Foundation. It was physically one of the hardest things I have ever done and the summit day was hell. But I did it. As you can tell this is the second time I have raised money for the MRF through a charitable event. They are an amazing charity and helped me and my family so much during my illness and recovery. It is a pleasure to raise money for them and I will continue to do so throughout my life. Please sponsor me at www.justgiving.com/jeffs-1st-mountainclimb
."Read Jeff's story in full
Kelly Grahame - Hornchurch, Essex
Kelly's son Harrison had Group B streptococcal meningitis.
"My son Harrison was four weeks old when he contracted group b streptococcal meningitis. He spent three weeks at GOSH, 12 of those days on life support. We were told the absolute worst news and decided with the doctors that turning off his life support was the best option for him. That's when our miracle started, Harrison started to breathe alone and he went from strength to strength. He is now a healthy happy three year old boy! We are lucky, we know lots of stories don't have our happy ending!"Read Kelly's story in full
Rachel and Steve Clarke - Great Sampford, Essex
Rachel and Steve's son, Sam, died of meningococcal septicaemia when he was four.
"Our eldest son Sam was four when he died from meningococcal septicaemia. He became poorly in the evening having a tummy ache and shivering but nothing obviously untoward. At 2am after waking and going to the toilet my husband noticed a purple rash on Sam's torso. He called me and on lifting Sam's pyjama top we saw the rash come up before our eyes – it was like he had been splattered with purple paint. In the ambulance I held Sam's hand and told him I loved him. By the time we reached hospital he was losing consciousness. Just 9 hours after first feeling unwell Sam lost his life. We were shell-shocked. He had always been well and healthy and now he had gone. Meningitis can affect anyone at anytime and is completely devastating."Read Rachel and Steve's story in full
Sue Street - Brentwood, Essex
Sue had meningococcal septicaemia, when she was 52.
"It was Xmas Eve when I first developed strange symptoms of painful joints in shoulder and hip, and a strange headache. Xmas Day the headache was excruciating, the pains in my joints stopped me from enjoying my first Xmas Dinner with my son for 10 years - sitting at the table with my three grandchildren, 9 months and twins of 6 weeks. I had to leave the table and lie down - quite honestly the next thing I really remember is around 2am waking with my head feeling like a balloon ready to burst - screaming out (I am told I didn't it was in my mind) then I next remember 1 January waking up in intensive care."
Read Sue's story in full
Emily Furniss - Bushey, Herfordshire
Emily's son George had Group B meningococcal disease.
"My son George spent two weeks in hospital seriously ill, including a terrifying week in intensive care where he suffered three cardiac arrests and was given only a 20% chance of survival. Luckily he survived but we were shocked by the speed and severity of this appalling disease and feel just so relieved to have our little boy home in one piece when so many others aren't so lucky."
Emily is an Ambassador for Meningitis Research Foundation.Read Emily's story in full
Eve Popper - Bushey Heath, Hertfordshire
Natalie contracted meningitis four times.
"My husband Michael contracted meningitis in 2000 at the age of 62. It was terribly traumatic – most people think only the young get meningitis and so do not really appreciate this can happen to older people too. Thankfully he recovered but has been left deaf as a result, which has been totally life-changing for both of us."Natalie King - Hoddesdon, Hertfordshire
Natalie contracted meningitis four times.
contracted meningitis four times before doctors discovered an
underlying problem. The first episode was in May 2001 when I was nine
years old. I remember being in the playground on the last day of school
before the Easter holidays when the pain in my head began, and by the
time I’d got home it was excruciating. Two doctors had been called out
and I was unconscious before my mum was told to get me to the hospital
quick. The first doctor dismissed my symptoms as flu as I didn't show
signs of a rash until much later on. I was placed in Intensive care at
Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital but thankfully over the next few
weeks and with the help of some wonderful medical staff I made a full
recovery. It wasn't until a few years later that the disease struck
again. I had three further episodes in my late teens, the final one at
18 years old just as I had begun a degree at Nottingham University. I
was on a bus home to see a specialist about the three previous episodes
when the searing pain in my head and nausea started. I rushed off the
bus into the station and got an attendant to call an ambulance as I was
sick into a bin. I knew exactly what my symptoms meant by now.
Fortunately an underlying problem was found and fixed and I have been
clear of the disease since. I consider myself extremely lucky to have no
side effects."Gina Weston - Norwich
Gina's son Ryan died from meningococcal septicaemia.
"My son Ryan died in January when he was just 19 of meningococcal septicaemia while away at university. He was due to come home for his sister’s 21st birthday and had only gone back for a couple of days. He was found in his bed in halls of residence having fallen ill during the night. His death has devastated all of us."
See Gina's story in full
Jacqueline Cook - Norwich
Jacqueline had meningococcal septicaemia
"I had flu like symptoms, my limbs were very painful and stiff and found it difficult to walk and I could not bear to be touched. I was sick and unable to bear the light and slept all the time. When I tried sitting in the lounge I fainted. My GP did not recognise the disease and thought that it was an arthritic virus but sent me to the hospital. I was left in a corridor at A&E for 1 hour, moved to an examination bay and spent 2 hours there drifting in and out of consciousness but did not see a doctor. I was eventually moved to the Medical Assessment Unit and a doctor then suspected meningitis and gave me a lumbar puncture but I do not remember much of that. It was when I was given a telephone to speak to my Mother that I realised I had lost the hearing in my right ear."Josh Benham - Norwich
Josh was 18 and at university when he contracted meningococcal septicaemia
I contracted the disease aged 18 at Uni. Rushed to hospital, fell into a coma and my friends and family were told I was not likely to make it through the night. 2 weeks later left hospital having made good recovery but it took about 12 months before I was completely back to normal."
Martin Neave - Watton, Norfolk
Martin's daughter Caroline died of meningiococcal disease.
"In the middle of the night we heard our daughter Caroline stumbling about having been sick again. Knowing, instinctively, that this was more than just a bad head and sore throat, we went straight to the nearest hospital where the superb staff did all that was possible to help. They diagnosed meningitis quite quickly as the tell tale red blotches had now appeared, for the first time. Caroline never regained consciousness and died in intensive care unit."
Vicky Matthews - Norwich
Vicky's daughter, Grace, had meningococcal septicaemia when she was just three.
"My daughter Grace contracted Group B meningococcal septicaemia at the age of three. She spent nine weeks in hospital and luckily survived but lost both legs below the knee, all fingers, half a thumb on her left hand and half the palm of her right hand."
Vicky is an MRF Ambassador
Richard and Joanne Barker - Peterborough
Richard and Joanne's son Raphael had Group B streptococcal disease at just two weeks old.
"Our son Raphael was admitted to hospital at only two weeks' old and quickly diagnosed with Group B Streptococcal meningitis and septicaemia. He was very poorly and spent the first few days in HDU. For the first 48 hours it was touch-and-go as to whether he would survive. He spent the next five weeks in hospital and we're extremely lucky he pulled through."
Ben Hodds - Lowestoft, Suffolk
Ben's son Ethan had meningococcal septicaemia as a baby
"My son Ethan contracted meningococcal septicaemia when he was a baby. Doctors gave him less than 10% chance of survival. He spent two weeks in hospital, five days of which he was in a coma. Luckily he survived and made a full recovery."
Linda Roberts - March, Cambridgeshire
Linda Roberts' son, Paralympic champion Jonnie Peacock, lost a leg to meningococcal septicaemia as a child.
"Jonnie was diagnosed with Meningococcal meningitis and septicaemia at the age of five in October 1998. His three older sisters Bethany, Rebekah and Hannah had been ill with a virus so when Jonnie had a temperature I thought he had picked up the same bug. But over the weekend his condition deteriorated quickly, he was delirious and then covered in a bright red rash so I wrapped him in his duvet, bundled him in the car and rushed to Addenbrooke’s Hospital. Once they diagnosed meningococcal septicaemia we were advised to say our goodbyes as his condition was critical and he was induced into a coma to allow his body to fight the infection. After four days in hospital the doctors said he was going to survive but they weren’t sure how he would be affected physically and mentally. His brain survived but he lost his right leg below the knee and has had four further amputations since his first operation as his bones have grown."
Adel Whitworth - Tooting
"In 2001 my close friend Jennie Warr died from meningitis, a few years later my cousin Becky also had the disease but luckily she survived. In 2011 & 2012 I ran the London Marathon for Meningitis Research Foundation and have raised just over £4,000 for them. I continue to be shocked by the amount of people who I meet who have had the disease or know someone who has."
Adel is and MRF AmbassadorChris Henry - Chiswick
"I suffered from meningitis several years ago. I was already aware of the symptoms because I had previously put up Meningitis Research Foundation symptoms posters in my college, and sought help immediately.
“When Meningitis and septicaemia strike, they can be devastating not only for the sufferer, but for their loved ones, family and friends - that’s why I’m supporting Meningitis Awareness Week. Everyone needs to know about these diseases because awareness and seeking medical assistance promptly could save lives"
Chris is an MRF ambassador
Helen Lever - SW6
"I contracted meningococcal septicaemia in 2006 when I was 16 years old. Because my symptoms were spotted early, I was able to receive medical attention within the critical time period and was lucky enough to make a full recovery. I was told that spotting the symptoms early and getting this quick treatment had a significant impact on my recovery and may have even saved my life.”
“Meningitis and meningococcal septicaemia can strike anyone at any time. For me, I went from going about my daily life to being admitted into hospital in a critical state in less than 24 hours. I had to take a significant amount of time off school, have rest breaks throughout my GCSE’s and did not make a full recovery for about a year. I was one of the lucky ones."
Helen is an MRF Ambassador
Julie Tucker - Mill Hill
"My brother-in law Marcel was with us one day and gone the next, leaving my sister and her two young children utterly bereft and the rest of our family reeling in shock and disbelief."
Julie is an MRF AmbassadorRead Julie's story in full
Kathryn de Villiers - Balham
"I was incredibly lucky to survive, having only been given a 10% chance by the doctors but fortunately received treatment relatively quickly. Despite being in a coma for four days I survived without any after effects. Now I have a young son of my own I am more aware than ever how important it is to raise awareness of the disease. I understand that I am one of the incredibly lucky ones; firstly to have survived being so poorly, but also with no real after effects – my doctor said it was a miracle."
Kathryn is an MRF AmbassadorRead Kathryn's story in fullMichael Rosen - Hackney
Eddie felt groggy one evening and had a temperature so Michael gave him some paracetamol. About midnight he took himself off to bed. His father looked in on him, noticed again that he was hot, mopped him with a cold flannel, gave him some more paracetamol and went to bed himself. In the morning, when Michael went to check on him, Eddie was dead. Meningitis is every parent’s worst nightmare. Symptoms often go unrecognised or appear too late and a healthy baby, child or adult can lose their life in a matter of hours. It can happen to anyone. It happened to my family, which is why I am supporting this campaign to ensure everyone is aware of the dangers of the disease and to ensure every child is vaccinated against every type of meningitis.Sarah Nickle - Wanstead
"My younger sister Tara, who was only 25, had recently returned from her post-university travels to our home city of Belfast and started work teaching kids with special needs. She had moved into her first flat just one day before she fell seriously ill and was admitted to hospital. My brother and I flew from London, arriving to join our parents shortly before she passed away."
Sarah is an MRF Ambassador
Onaiza Fice - Harrow
"Our beautiful baby boy Zain fell ill one morning and was immediately admitted to hospital but 12 hours later he died in our arms aged only 26 days old. The doctors did all they could to try to save him but to no avail. The post mortem revealed he died from septicaemia. We were shocked at how rapidly this disease could take the life of a perfectly healthy baby that was alert and happy only a day earlier."
Onaiza is an MRF Ambassador
South and South East England: Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, East Sussex, Hampshire, Isle of Wight, Kent, Oxfordshire, Surrey, West Sussex
Ewan Ross - Bracknell, Berkshire
"I was 19 and at uni when struck down with meningococcal septicaemia. I was found by cleaning staff in my halls of residence and taken to the GP. I know how lucky I am to have made such a recovery against the odds. Looking back the local GP saved my life. Without her quick diagnosis and treatment I wouldn’t have made it to the hospital let alone made it home."
Stephen Bunce - Reading, Berkshire
"I contracted meningococcal septicaemia in May 2000 when I was 12 years old. My mum spotted a rash and knew about the tumbler test and immediately called an ambulance and I was taken to Royal Berkshire Hospital. The doctors told her to say goodbye to me as I was so ill and they transferred me to St Mary’s at Paddington where I was resuscitated a number of times. Luckily I survived but had both legs amputated below the knee and have 70% scarring over my body."
Sue Baggot - Wokingham, Berkshire
“Our son James contracted meningococcal septicaemia in May 2000 when he was 4 years old. Thankfully, James responded to the antibiotics that he was given very quickly and within five days was discharged from hospital with no apparent side effects. We consider ourselves to be incredibly lucky on so many levels, lucky that our GP responded so quickly by giving James penicillin, lucky that the illness developed during the morning and not in the middle of the night and lucky that I had picked up a symptoms card and had it on my fridge!”
Read Sue's story in full
Jeni Tucker - Reading, Berkshire
"My daughter Kate was 31 when she died of meningococcal septicaemia, leaving behind her 10 year old son Aaron. She was seriously ill on the Monday evening and was rushed to hospital which was the last time we saw her conscious. On the Thursday we were all with her when they switched off the life support machine."
Read Jeni's story in full
Helen Davies - Haddenham, Buckinghamshire
Toby and Caroline Berryman - Hove, Brighton and Hove
"Our son Zach died of meningitis B septicaemia in 2005 and lost his fight for life within 12 hours. Zach had always been fit and healthy but one night he became poorly and irritable and had trouble sleeping. The next morning we noticed a tiny rash on his body. We called a doctor and Zach was rushed to hospital where doctors fought to save him. However despite every effort, the infection was too much for Zach and he died just hours after arriving in hospital. It was the speed at which it all happened which was hard to deal with, one minute we had a healthy happy boy and then he was gone. It’s absolutely vital that a vaccine is made available asap so other families do not have to go through what we did."
"My son Joshua was five months old when he contracted meningococcal septicaemia. Four years later and his newborn baby brother Dillon contracted pneumococcal meningitis. We are still fighting for help for Josh due to learning difficulties." Read Helen's story in full
Aaron Phipps - Southampton
“My family were told to say their goodbyes but I somehow I pulled through. I was in hospital for a year and have had my feet and finger tips amputated. If it wasn't for my Mum and Dad knowing the symptoms I might not have been so lucky. Ten years on I am married, am a careers advisor, play wheelchair rugby for Great Britain and feel lucky to have achieved so much since coming out of hospital.”
Brian Orange - Stockbridge, Hampshire
"I contracted Bacterial meningitis In 1991 when I was 45 years old. Two weeks earlier I had been at a Sales Conference in Germany, and some Far Eastern Representatives were clearly suffering from some virulent cold. About four Europeans including me, all came down with heavy colds within 3-4 days. Ten days after arriving back from Germany, I was so ill that my wife phoned our surgery, and asked for our GP to call round. He prescribed antibiotics but my condition deteriorated so my wife phoned the surgery again as I was mumbling and sweating profusely. The GP called round after surgery and immediately diagnosed Meningitis. The A & E at RHCH Winchester did a lumbar puncture which confirmed this and I was put in an isolation ward, and I don’t remember much for a day or two. I spent 8 days in hospital but it took about 10 weeks before I was anywhere back to normal. I have not suffered any side effects since then due to the Meningitis and feel incredibly lucky as I had no idea I was so near death."
Lara Robertson - Havant, Hampshire
"I came home from nursery feeling unwell and the nursery phoned to say one of the workers had got the disease so I was taken straight to the doctor who told us to go straight to the hospital. At the hospital one of the nurses was sure I didn't have meningitis but my Mum insisted that I must have and to do the official test, I did have it and was in hospital very ill for a week and a half but as it was caught early I made a full recovery on leaving hospital."
Diana Man - Tunbridge Wells, Kent
"I contracted meningococcal septicaemia at the age of 25 and spent over 6 months in hospital. I have had both lower legs amputated and all the fingers on my right hand, have epilepsy and been through multiple skin grafts. But meningitis does not only affect the victim of the disease, but the people around them. My mum says she will forever feel guilty for not picking up on what was wrong sooner."Read Diana's story in full
Adele Powell - Bromley, Kent
"Joe had severe eczema he was showing no signs of the disease just snotty nose and was sleepy done glass test as nurses that was attending to Already sick son who was terminal with leukaemia was baffled as well. He lasted about seven hours from admittance to hospital no temperature nothing to confirm that he had meningitis. Blood results confirmed the strain as well when he died the following morning. Experience has taught me that no two strains are the same his was rare and how quickly this disease took his little life."
Nicola Lawlor - Dartford, Kent
"Evie was diagnosed with Group A Streptococcal septicaemia at the age of 19 months. She spent ten days in intensive care and a further 11 days in hospital after that but as a result had to have her foot amputated. We had seen the meningitis and septicaemia leaflets in the past, noted what they said but never expected to need to use that information. I am supporting this campaign to ensure everyone is aware of the dangers of the disease and to ensure every child is vaccinated against every type of meningitis."Read Nicola's story in full
Anna Harris - Sittingbourne, Kent
"Sadly my husband and I lost our beautiful bonnie healthy baby girl to meningitis and septicaemia, suspected cause late-onset Group B Streptococcal. Amber Rose was only four weeks old when she got fatally sick and passed away after a strong fight at five weeks old. One day she was healthy and full of beans and the next day she was fighting for her life."
Read Anna's story in full
Daniella Boyle - Sidcup, Kent
"My best friend Lucy Louise Rendell contracted meningitis B in March 2003 at the age of 11 years. Lucy was with us at school on the Wednesday when she begun to fall ill at the lunch time, by the end of the school day Lucy had become very ill with flu like symptoms. The last time I see my best friend was at the end of that school day when she was leaving with her sister. I didn’t go to school on the Thursday but that afternoon I received a phone call from my friend to say Lucy had Meningitis and she was in hospital. It was the next day at school we were told Lucy had died from Meningitis, Friday 13 March 2003. All of Lucy’s family and friends were devastated by her death and ever since have raised money for the charity and to try and raise awareness of this terrible disease."
Dawn Whiteman - Crayford, Kent
"My beautiful granddaughter Maya Ford died of meningococcal septicaemia in 2 August 2012 aged 21 months. She was my world, my life, my everything and she was taken from us in sixteen hours. It was such a shock how quickly this disease took effect. It is so important to spread awareness and we are raising money in Maya’s memory for Meningitis Research Foundation who have supported the family. Hopefully a cure can be found so other families don’t have to endure the same pain and heartbreak that we are going through.
“We’re holding our own Awareness Week 16-22 September at Northumberland Heath to educate shoppers on what symptoms to look out for so we hope everyone will pop down to find out more and help us raise vital funds"
Donna Cooney - Rochester, Kent
"I was putting my very poorly son Ollie to bed when I noticed pinprick red spots on his neck. He was rushed to hospital and given only a 5% chance of survival. But after about a week on life support and four weeks in hospital doctors were amazed he pulled through and his limbs weren't affected. Had I not known the signs it would have been a very different story."
Jo Camble - Tonbridge, Kent
"My son Henry contracted meningococcal disease aged two years and seven months in April 2010. At first doctors thought it was a viral infection but they the time they realised it was meningitis it was too late. It all happened so quickly, he went to bed a normal, healthy boy, and 15 hours later in died in my arms. Any parent who thinks their child is showing any of the symptoms needs to get them to hospital as soon as possible. Don't wait for the spots, because it could be too late."
Joanna Thornton - Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire
"Otto spent the best part of his first month of life in hospital hooked up to numerous machines many times the size of his little body. He proved himself to be so strong and so sweet. So courageous and so calm. He really was perfect and we will always be so proud. We brought him home but he was readmitted every month until he was six months old for various complications as a result of his immune system taking such a bashing from having contracted meningitis at such a young age."
Amy Davis - Farnham, Surrey
"I contracted meningitis on the 13th January and spent three weeks in intensive care, two of which were spent in a coma and on life support. I then spent a further 10 weeks on a ward. My feet and hands were black from the septicaemia and my treatment for my black feet continued as an out-patient. After my time in Frimley Park Hospital I went onto the Ted Bradley unit in Woking for my rehabilitation. I spent six weeks there improving my strength and learning to walk again. I had various operations after that removing six toes and debriding the gangrene from my feet. I have been struggling with infections, open wounds and excruciating pain from my feet up until the 13th of august 2012 when I had my left leg amputated below the knee. I am currently undergoing physio learning to walk again and strengthening my legs, and I'm looking forward to a life without pain."
Read Amy's story in full
Lucy Steel - Oxted, Surrey
"Our son Leo had meningitis when he was seven months old which, although he luckily survived, left him with growth plate damage. Now, aged eight, he has recently had surgery to correct tibia and fibula shortening, which shows how long lasting the effects can be. He will have to have a frame on for a year but it is vital as will enable him to walk properly as an adult."
Read Lucy's story in full
Sean Smith - Cambereley, Surrey
"My Mum decided that she wanted to get me ready for bed, whilst taking my top off she noticed a very small rash on my wrist. Mum called a neighbour who was a nurse, she saw the rash and suggested Mum take me to our local GP just to ensure it was nothing serious. We went to the out of hours doctors and he told us we should go to the children s hospital. Unknown to us he had already phoned the hospital to say that I would be coming in and that I was suffering from meningitis. On arrival to the hospital there was around six doctors and a couple of nurses waiting to take us into a side room and immediately started to put me on drips. My Mum asked what was happening and this was when they broke the bad news. My family watched the poison slowly infect my young body and my fingers and my toes turning black. Two days later my condition started to improve and I finally woke up. I stayed in for another five days until they were satisfied that I was ready to leave. I had to return daily for the next seven days for antibiotics and a month later I had a follow up check on my eyes and ears and miraculously both were fine. My mum has always described it as a mother's worst nightmare. She says this 'until you have a child you can't understand the pain in seeing your children suffer'."
Deb Hollywod - Hurstpierpoint, Sussex
"The consultant said he had never seen such a full recovery for a baby that had been so ill. We were one of the lucky ones – a fact I give thanks for and am reminded of as my daughter Jess goes about her day to day life, able to brush her hair and teeth, never mind take part in school swimming galas and sports day - we know it is not the same for everyone."
Kate Ogden - Brighton
"Sometimes even with the quickest action and the best medical care, meningitis still proves fatal. I’m incredibly proud of how all my family and friends pulled together to get me through it. I’ll never be able to thank them – or the doctors that saved my life – enough for what they’ve done. Know the symptoms, listen to your body, trust your instincts, and manage the minutes. It could save a life."
Read Kate's story in full
Rebecca Cowen - Lancing, Sussex
"The thought had never crossed my mind that my 10 month old daughter Isabella had pneumoccocal meningitis until she got a very high temperature and then started fitting down her right side. We were so frightened that she would die. Thankfully she was rushed to hospital and diagnosed early and very quickly so the correct drugs could be given. She spent two weeks in hospital but has made a fully recovery and is now a very happy and playful two year old."
Read Rebecca's story in full
Ann Fulcher - Chichester, West Sussex
"My daughter Sally contracted Meningitis at six and a half weeks old in February 1972. She struggled for one week to stay alive but lost that struggle."
Carol Taylor - Lindfield, West Sussex
"My daughter Anna found me in bed in agony and I was rushed to hospital where I was diagnosed with meningitis B, septicemia and pneumonia and put on a life support machine. Amazingly, I returned home after just ten days and went on to make a full recovery - something that doctors told us would never have been possible had Anna my daughter not called an ambulance when I did so I could receive vital antibiotics. I was so lucky to recover unscathed."
Jayne Heritage - Henfield, West Sussex
"Thought Ella had flu. She came down ill on Saturday at 3pm and by Sunday morning her eyes were fixed and staring, skin looked grey and I checked her for a rash, did the tumbler test and it didn’t fade. Called Worthing A&E and told them my husband was bringing in my daughter with meningitis. They said, “Oh I doubt it is” I told them I was pretty sure it was as I’d done the tumbler test. The team were ready to receive Ella by the time Ella reached A&E. She was losing consciousness and you could literally see the rash spreading. The last thing Ella said to me was “I can’t see mummy” and then she was incubated. Ella was collected from intensive care by COSMIC ambulance and spent two weeks in St Mary’s Hospital, London on life support. We were told the next 24 hrs were critical upon her arrival to the hospital and the next two weeks past in a blur. It seemed to be two steps forward and then one back with progress. Ella is now 15 and is just about to have more surgery done on her hip which was affected by the meningitis. The septicaemia killed the neck of the femur so her hip is deformed but we don’t moan – she’s still here and that’s the main thing."
Zoe Jeanes - Horsham, West Sussex
Zoe was 18 and enjoying the party lifestyle when she suffered meningococcal septicaemia. She was sent home by her GP telling her it was just a migraine, but was later rushed to hospital, where she spent time on both life support and dialysis machines. She has been left with after effects to her hearing, but knows how lucky she was.
Read Zoe's story in full.
South West England: Bristol, Gloucestershire, Somerset, Dorset, Wiltshire, Devon, Cornwall
Cherie and Darren Thorne - Kingswood, Bristol
"At five weeks old our beautiful baby girl Amelie became ill. We knew something was not right as her breathing was laboured and she became very stiff. After lots of test we were told she had Group B streptococcal meningitis and thankfully after three long agonising weeks she made a amazing recovery and is thriving every day."
Julie Harvey - Almondsbury, Bristol
"Sophie was in intensive care for a week and then a week on the ward. It left her profoundly deaf and she had a cochlear implant fitted at two years nine months. She is a happy person, but need loads of reassurance when doing new things. She has just left Castle Secondary School having taken her GCSE’s and hopes to go to Ashley Down College to do a level 1 childcare course. She can also get very unsure of things very quickly and can panic and I believe this is a result of the meningitis."
Mel McHugh - Southmead, Bristol
"Josh became unwell a day after being baptised in 1995. He was ten months old. It started like a virus; high temperature, being sick and generally unwell. By the morning, twelve hours after first becoming unwell, Josh had developed a rash. Consequently I rang my doctor, who told me to do the "tumbler test", which led me to believe he had septicaemia (the rash did not disappear when pressure was applied using a tumbler, a non-serious rash would have disappeared temporarily). I informed my GP who immediately came round and took us to the hospital. As soon as we arrived, hospital staff took Josh and inserted a drip to administer antibiotics. I was told that the next 24 hours were crucial and that he may not survive, but if he did survive, he would likely sustain brain damage and loss of limbs as a result of the septicaemia. Over the next few days, Josh became stronger and made a full recovery. We were allowed to take him home after a week of hospitalisation. It was without question the best day of my life - over the next couple of weeks the rash disappeared - at his six month check he was given a clean bill of health, with no side effects. It was a miracle; we were very, very lucky. There was no need for follow up appointments or further treatment; we were able to continue our lives with our precious baby boy."
Read Mel's story in full
Mel is an MRF Ambassador
Kate Turner - Tywardreath, Cornwall
"My son Ben contracted meningococcal meningitis and septicaemia in January this year at the age of 16. It was a roller-coaster ride in the first few weeks, involving a relapse in hospital when the first antibiotics were stopped, and many emotionally-charged scenes with Ben’s family, friends and girlfriend, not least, the relief when Ben was eventually brought out of the coma. My initial relief at that point turned quickly to the new terror of ""Will Ben be the same? How has this affected him?"" - For the first few days I hadn't even considered the effects the disease might have, all that mattered was that Ben lived.
“I thought I knew a bit about meningitis before Ben contracted it – Ben had the HIB immunisation as a child. I didn’t realise how many different types there are though, or how quickly the disease takes hold. I would encourage people to familiarise themselves with the symptoms of septicaemia too, as these were the main indicators in Ben’s case."
Amanda Warnett - Gunnislake, Cornwall
"Aimee died at nine months after contracting meningococcal Septicemia. I feel that if the awareness of Meningitis was as prominent then as today, maybe Aimee would have survived - She was admitted to hospital and no diagnosis or antibiotics were given until three days after her admission and four days later her life support was terminated."
Anna Boult - Plymouth
"My daughter Lily contracted bacterial meningitis in June 2013 aged six. She was tired, feverish, and had a mild rash on her cheeks. After a couple of days it cleared up and she went back to school. But each day after school she would complain of tiredness and started to get headaches. Being a mum of three I know the signs of meningitis and her only complaints were the headaches, tiredness, occasional back pain and she said her eyes hurt generally. She would seem quite poorly one minute, then jumping around like her usual self the next! On Monday I took her to the doctors and he said she must have a virus and that it would clear up within the week. The next morning I found her in bed having a massive seizure. To this day I have no idea how long it went on for before I found her, but it kept going for at least an hour before the doctors finally stopped it in A &E. They immediately started her on various medications, one of which was antibiotics for meningitis and after a terrifying week in hospital she was home, and now shows no signs that anything was ever wrong. We have not yet had a follow-up appointment where they may be able to confirm the exact bacteria which caused the infection."
Clare Bond - Torquay, Devon
"Bradley wasn't well and I noticed a couple of spots. I did the tumbler test and they didn't go. Luckily the emergency doctor gave him penicillin and sent us to A&E where he spent nearly a week but made a full recovery."
Kate Hyland - Paignton, Devon
"I was convinced that the symptoms my husband was showing were meningitis. I phoned NHS direct at about 4am and they were brilliant. An ambulance arrived and took my husband to hospital. He spent a total of five weeks in hospital, the first seven days in CCU, five of those in a coma. He has been left with moderate brain damage, mobility problems, is registered both partially sighted and partially deaf, has severe migraines which attack without warning and numerous other problems."
Nicky Barton - Plymouth, Devon
"Our beautiful son Archie contracted meningococcal septicaemia, just 18 months old. Archie spent five months in hospitals. He survived this deadly disease at a cost. Both legs amputated above knee, many fingers lost, tip of nose lost, tip of ear lost, lots of scarring and severely visually impaired. We are so grateful that Archie is alive. He's amazing, strong, determined, inspiring, cheeky, naughty, gutsy and our HERO."
Catherine Schrier - Beaminster, Dorset
"My nephew Oscar died of pneumococcal meningitis aged 3 in 2001. He had a bit of a temperature and sore throat and we thought he was starting a cold so Emma gave him some Calpol but by the next morning he was really ill. They took him to the GP who also thought he was getting a cold and sent them home, advising a top up of Calpol.
"When Oscar started to plunge in and out of consciousness they rushed him to A&E in Bridport who quickly transferred him to Dorchester hospital where meningitis was diagnosed.
"He was given a lumbar puncture and then started slipping in and out of consciousness and they decided to put him under to try and save him. They were amazing""
"He was transferred to Southampton General Hospital by police escort but it was too late. We were given a low percentage by the hospital that he wouldn't live and the next day my sister decided to turn off the life support. We were numb. Neither of us thought Oscar wouldn't be coming home with us.
Knowing the symptoms and acting quickly can mean the difference between life and death"
Catherine is an MRF Ambassador
Melanie Corney - Poole, Dorset
"By the time I was diagnosed correctly I'd had the disease for several days and my major organs were shutting down. The battle for survival was just the beginning."
Read Melanie's story in full
Nicky McClure - Wimborne, Dorset
"Megan was rushed to hospital where they started treating her for meningitis straight away. We were told the next 24 hours were critical and if we had waited any longer to bring her in we would have lost her. We are incredibly lucky to have a happy, healthy daughter and in many ways it still affects us when we hear about people who were not as lucky as we are.
Read Nicky's story in full
Gemma Allen - Dursley, Gloucstershire
"My daughter's name is Isabella Sofia Troiano She's seven years old now and was ill at 17 weeks old contracted pneumococcal meningitis December 17th 2006 over our first Christmas together she was ill in hospital for over 2 weeks and was diagnosed 20th December. It was touch and go, the doctor said, 'A couple more hours and she wouldn't be with us!'. Isabella is still suffering now seven years on."
Rachel Stewart - Cam, Gloucestershire
"At nine months old we lost our gorgeous bouncing boy Oscar to pneumococcal septicaemia. He was not himself one morning, crying and no energy, and I just knew something was wrong. After weeks of intensive care he pulled through only to succumb to this horrendous disease a second time. The signs were there and no matter how amazing and quick in responding the staff at the Bristol children's hospital were, this time the disease won."
Claire Middleton - Weston-Super-Mare, North Somerset
Gail Philips - Bridgwater, Somerset
"Our daughter Edith was diagnosed with Bacterial meningitis and septicaemia caused by Group B Strep at the age of 36 hours. She had been home for 12 hours when she became ill and the only symptom she had was a very high temperature. She was taken from Weston to Bristol Children’s Hospital in an ambulance with flashing blue lights and when we arrived she had a lumbar puncture, bloods and was started on antibiotics. She looked like she was going to die and it was so hard not being able to hold her. She spent a night in PICU and after 12hrs showed signs of improving. She was discharged from hospital 14 days later. She has since had a hearing test and is showing all signs of a full recovery."
"Our son William contracted pneumococcal meningitis at the age of five. He was seriously ill, but thankfully pulled through. On leaving hospital we were very aware that his level of hearing had decreased, but were still shocked to be told he would have to wear hearing aids. As a family we have experienced many tears, and much anger and frustration. William has now adjusted to his situation and continues to lead the normal life of a very lively boy."Read Gail's story in full
Christine Carter - Thornbury, South Gloucestershire
"In the early hours of New Year’s Day last year I was rushed to hospital, being given just hours to live. I survived but was in intensive care for five weeks and in hospital for over seven months. I lost both my legs and operations on my hands which has left me with one full finger and half a finger on my left hand."
Christine is an MRF Ambassador.
Read Christine's story in full
Nick Knight - Frampton Cotterell
"My wife Wanda was in her mid 50s when ‘from nowhere’ this disease caught her. Not initially diagnosed, it was only when she became ‘very ill’ that the correct treatment was given. Wanda was left profoundly deaf as a result and has had to make major adjustments."