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World Meningitis Day 2021: Martin's Story

23 Apr 2021
World Meningitis Day 2021: Martin's Story
Dorset native Martin Fletcher, 51, had enjoyed a successful career as a London plumber before contracting meningitis in July 2016. Martin spent 2 months in Ealing Hospital and has been left with permanent brain injury and memory loss. In support of World Meningitis Day (April 24th 2021) he is urging greater awareness of the signs and symptoms of this deadly, life changing disease.

“I was feeling terrible with a bad headache,” said Martin. “But I went into work anyway as a self-employed plumber in Wembley. My employer said I looked terrible and should sit down for 10 minutes. The next thing I knew, it was two weeks later and I was in hospital waking up from an induced coma.”
Martin had contracted pneumococcal meningitis, a disease which kills 1 in 10 of those that contract it, and leaves survivors with life-altering after-effects. Martin remained in hospital for a further 2 months.

“Going into work that day effectively saved my life,” said Martin, who lived alone at the time. “If I’d stayed at home no one would have been around to call the ambulance. Brain scans have shown that I have a dark patch in my brain which is dead and will never recover.”

[pictured: Martin in hospital.]
Martin suffers from memory loss and impaired cognitive function, making him unable to return to work. He said: “Plumbing is all I’d done since I was 16, but I just couldn’t do it anymore. I would forget things and lose focus. I still struggle with basic daily tasks, like paying the bills or even remembering to eat.”

The invisible after-effects of meningitis can be life changing,” says Rob Dawson, Director of Communications, Advocacy & Support at Meningitis Research Foundation (MRF). “Survivors who suffer from memory loss, brain damage, PTSD, hearing loss and more report feeling lonely and isolated. Because they “look normal”, people expect them to be the same as before they fell ill. This World Meningitis Day we are very grateful to Martin for raising awareness of the devastating impact meningitis can have, and encourage everyone to take action to defeat meningitis by visiting www.meningitis.org to learn more.”
World Meningitis Day 2021
World Meningitis Day 2021
Take action. Defeat meningitis.
Martin is now passionate about raising awareness of meningitis among adults. He said: “Before I fell ill I didn’t even know adults could get meningitis. I thought it was just something babies got. Now, the more I’ve read about meningitis, the more I count myself bleeding lucky. I might walk down the street and forget where I’m going sometimes, but at least I’m walking.”

Martin has recently returned to his hometown of Poole, Dorset to be near family. “God knows where I’d be without my family,” he said. “They’ve been such a help. I’m one of the lucky ones.”

[pictured: Martin with friends after leaving hospital.]
Cuts to research funding mean your support is needed more than ever to bring a world free from meningitis one step closer.
“Before I fell ill I didn’t even know adults could get meningitis. I thought it was just something babies got."
How much meningitis is there where you live?
The WHO have endorsed the Global Roadmap to Defeat Meningitis by 2030. We need you to encourage global governments to act on it.
Defeating Meningitis by 2030: A Global Roadmap
Defeating Meningitis by 2030: A Global Roadmap
Holly Edwards
Senior Communications, Advocacy & Support Officer

Hi, I'm Holly. I look after this area of work for MRF, so if there's anything more you'd like to know, get in touch.

Tel: 07875498047
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