My husband set off and I stayed at home (Alice was in bed asleep).
Within 15 minutes of my husband leaving, I received a call from the warden at Pollock Halls to say that an ambulance had been called. One of Matthew’s friends had looked in on him and he was very distressed - severe headache and vomiting.
Matthew was taken to the Western General and I contacted my husband to break the news that Matthew was in hospital. I was left at home without transport but got Alice up and phoned a family friend to ask for a lift to the hospital.
My husband described Matthew as very distressed and thrashing about on the bed when he arrived at A&E. Matthew then suffered from a seizure and was quickly taken to Intensive Care where he was put into an induced coma and ventilated.
I arrived with Alice at the hospital about 11pm and my other daughter, who was also a student in Edinburgh, came to look after her.
Matthew received excellent care in IC and 3 days later he was woken up and taken off the ventilator.
My husband I took day about being with our son and were accommodated in the hospital. Matthew, like his sister, had fought very hard.
It took a while in hospital to get Matthew well enough to convalesce back home. He struggled to eat and drink and struggled to walk – he was extremely weak – a boy who had been a successful rugby player!
After 2 weeks though, Matthew came home. My husband had met with the university to discuss whether Matthew would be able to join his course the following year.
All credit to Matthew though, he joined his intended course of study later in the autumn and although very tired did very well. Five years later, he gained a first class masters in mechanical engineering!
Doctors at the Western and Royal Infirmary were keen to look at the fact that two out of three siblings had both had the same meningitis and septicaemia.
The 3 children all went to RI for blood tests and both Matthew and Alice were found to have a complement deficiency. (There is a lot of recent research worth reading about this) but basically, complement deficiency greatly reduces a person’s ability to fight infection. White blood cells don’t receive the signals they need to start fighting!
Matthew was advised to take antibiotics if he was moving into new environments e.g. trips abroad or moving house/work.
As a mother who has gone through the nightmare situation twice, I feel very fortunate that the outcome was a good one and I know only too well that it could have been different.
Alice is more willing to talk about her experience even though it was a long time ago and has raised money for Meningitis Research through taking part in running events and I donate every Christmas to the charity. Alice also supports the Sick Kids Friends Foundation and when she gets married next year she is going to make a donation to Meningitis Research rather than having table wedding favours.
Matthew never ever speaks about his illness and prefers to lock away in the past.
Finally, a few small events that proved vital in getting the care my children urgently needed meant the difference
- Matthews Uni friend looking in on him because he knew he wasn’t well and going out with the crowd and thus raising the alert
- Coming in from work and noticing the change in Alice which might have been harder to recognise if I had been with her all morning
- Our wonderful GP who administered the antibiotics at least an hour before Alice got to hospital