Meningitis in your words

Gloria Kuseliwa's story

  • Location: Malawi
  • Categories: Bacterial meningitis
  • Age: Baby 0-1
  • Relationship: Parent
  • Outcome: Bereavement
Gloria Kuseliwa

Fyness Kuseliwa’s daughter, Gloria, contracted meningitis at one month old and survived but sadly died a year later, in August 2012, after suffering complications from hydrocephalus. Fyness is a Health Surveillance Assistant at Mbayani Health Clinic in Blantyre in Malawi, and she told us her story.

When Gloria was a month old we took her to get her vaccinations. When we got home she seemed fine but at midnight she started having convulsions.

We waited for morning to come and got on the minibus and went straight to Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital. We didn’t go the health clinic because she was so sick and when we got there the staff noticed the severity of the case and didn’t insist we go back to our health clinic to be referred, which sometimes happens.

"One of the doctors noticed that there was a lot of fluid in Gloria’s head"

They took Gloria to the malaria ward and they then did tests and diagnosed meningitis and started treatment. Gloria was on the ward for ten days. I have two other children, 12 and 8 years old and they were looked after by my sister. I stayed on the ward with Gloria for the whole time she was in hospital.

On the day she was supposed to be discharged one of the doctors noticed that there was a lot of fluid in Gloria’s head and said they needed to operate on her to treat hydrocephalus. After a further two weeks, once the swelling had gone down a bit, they operated on her.

After the operation, Gloria was able to move her hands and able to respond to her name which she was unable to do beforehand. It relieved pressure on the brain and allowed her to be more responsive.

We came home and we just accepted what happened to her, she could sit so I could get on with my housework. One day Gloria came down with fever at home. She died the same day on 4 August 2012.

I think I would be able to spot meningitis again after my experience. I am one of the Health Surveillance Assistants at Mbayani Health Clinic and part of my role is to raise awareness in communities about different types of illness, so have told people in the clinic about what happened to Gloria. I am worried it will happen to my other children as I know it doesn’t just happen to babies but older children as well.

Fyness Kuseilwa
October 2013