On 8 February 2011, I received a phone call that devastated my life forever.
My son, Nicolis, has been diagnosed with bacterial meningitis. He’d woken that morning at college with a bad headache and high fever. The school nurse gave him a couple of Tylenol pills and sent him back to his apartment to rest.
Four hours later, Nico woke from his nap with considerably more and disturbing symptoms. His roommates report that he was incoherent and throwing up. They immediately called an ambulance and Nico was rushed to the nearest hospital.
The attending doctors suspected bacterial meningitis and a spinal tap was performed. The fluid that should have been clear was cloudy and confirmed the fears of the staff. They immediately treated Nico with antibiotics and steroids to accelerate his treatment.
By the time we arrived at the hospital, Nico was already unconscious. Three hours later, we were told that he had suffered a brain aneurysm and that his brain was swollen to the point that no further
treatment was available.
Within five hours, Nico went from being a very healthy and vibrant young man to having no brain activity. He died three days later.
There are simply no words to adequately describe the pain and devastation our family feels from the loss of our only son and sibling. Something like this just wasn’t supposed to happen.
It was only after our son died from meningitis that we learned there was a vaccine to prevent this devastating disease. Our grief became unbearable when we discovered that Nicolis had not been required to be vaccinated because he didn’t live in a dorm.
We worked with The Immunization Partnership and The J.A.M.I.E. Group to make the Jamie Schanbaum/Nicolis Williams Act law in Texas in 2011, which now means that all new college students will be vaccinated against the disease.
Meningitis acts quickly and can seriously injure or kill a previously healthy child or teenager within hours. Fortunately, there is a vaccine that protects teenagers and college students from meningococcal, or bacterial meningitis. We learned this the hard way, but it is our hope to show the value of vaccines to prevent other from contracting this deadly disease.