Meningitis in your words

Dylan's story

  • Date of illness: 14 May 2007
  • Categories: Pneumococcal
  • Age: Toddler 1-3
  • Relationship: Parent
  • Outcome: Bereavement
On 14 May 2007, a beautiful blonde, blue-eyed little boy named Dylan Robert McNeil was born into this world. His smile and love for life was contagious. He was a blessing to so many lives, in many different ways. Dylan loved life, and always had a big smile stretched across his face.

Two year’s later, Dylan became unwell and his temperature reached 103.8 Fahrenheit (39.9 Celsius). The on-call service told me that as long as his temperature was under 105 F (40.5 C) and he wasn’t lethargic, still had wet diapers, and his respiratory rate stayed around 30 breaths per minute that I should just watch him and call if he got worse. We were able to manage his breathing with his usual asthma medications and put him in bed with us.

Dylan started vomiting early the next morning, but his temperature was down. His paediatrician’s office wanted to see him as he’d had three rounds of pneumonia that past winter. He seemed to be getting lethargic, lifeless and tired, but he was able to keep down two popsicles.

Blood tests showed that there was some sort of bacterial infection somewhere. The decision was made to admit him to the paediatric unit at our local hospital, give him IV fluids and antibiotics, and to test for a urinary infection. Usually he would fight any sort of IV and it would take a couple of us to hold him down. Not this time.

Shortly after returning to his hospital room, Dylan fell asleep. As we waited on the test results, he had a seizure. I got into a wheelchair with Dylan in my arms and was wheeled down to get a CT scan. He was still seizing.

The doctors informed us they want to do a spinal tap to check for meningitis. Just as the doctor was reporting to us that all had gone well, Dylan stopped breathing and his heart rate dropped. They placed him on a ventilator and told us that he needed to be flown to the children’s hospital in Portland, Oregon (USA).

Upon arriving, Dylan was rushed to the paediatric intensive care unit. A team of doctors and nurses swarmed around him as I watched in horror and shock. After doing all they could, the doctor informed me that Dylan had suffered severe brain trauma. There was nothing more they could do.

We spent many days by Dylan’s bedside, researching, hoping, praying and begging for a medical miracle. Dylan never regained consciousness. We watched our son silently leave us. Even with all the advanced medicine and procedures, Dylan’s brain slowly progressed to brain death and herniated. He was removed from life support and died in my arms.

One day shy of his second birthday, our worst fear became a reality. Our son left this world from a horrific bacterium called streptococcus pneumoniae (or pneumococcal meningitis). 

We are determined to continue the fight against meningitis so no other child will have to suffer, and no other parent will have to endure the pain of losing a child from this devastating illness.

Sabrina founded the Dylan McNeil Foundation in Oregon, USA.

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