Meningitis in your words

Olivia Thea Iona's story

  • Location: Cyprus
  • Categories: GBS (Group B streptococcal)
  • Age: Baby 0-1
  • Relationship: Parent
  • Outcome: Recovery with after effects
  • After effects: Learning difficulties
Olivia Thea Iona

Olivia was born on 5th April 2002 in Paphos, Cyprus. After a difficult and long delivery she came out quiet and blue and we were told she was ok! 

After four days we took her home, she was a very quiet and sleepy baby who didn't feed very well. 

It was a Thursday night and my husband had left for work. I gave Olivia her bottle and just after it she projectile vomited twice. She was a bit lifeless but I wasn't sure as she was my first child.

My husband came home and realised how much she had deteriorated in the few hours he had been gone and we rang the paediatrician. We meet her at the clinic at 2am for her to check Olivia out and she took her temperature, which was 40c. She wasn't happy and wanted a second opinion, so rang the local hospital for a doctor to check her over.

Within half an hour he had suction down her throat and was telling us she was seriously ill and only had a 50/50 chance of survival. From there everything went downhill so fast. She stopped breathing at least twice and they had to do two lumbar punctures. The doctors confirmed she had GBS neonatal meningitis and transferred her to Makarios Children's Hospital in Nicosia on Friday teatime. A third lumbar puncture was done in the ambulance to drain fluid. She was in NICU in a room of her own surrounded by machines tubes and wires; I can remember her head looked so big for her body! Doctors told us the next 72 hrs were critical.


"I couldn't imagine her disabled or even worse - I prayed she would pull through"

We were not allowed to stay with her and spent the night in a hostel. The following day doctors told us the worst scenario: as I couldn't imagine her disabled or even worse I prayed she would pull through and be OK. 

She started to improve and we rented a flat in Nicosia for two weeks, but then we had to come back to Paphos and I made the four hour round trip every day with a member of my family just to see her for one hour, as they were very strict on visiting times.

After four weeks she was discharged and we brought her back home. The doctors were brilliant and tried to explain as best they could everything to us. She had MRI scans, hearing and sight tests and was on anti-epileptic drugs for over a year after, but has not had any problems.

She is now a healthy, happy seven-year-old with two younger sisters; she has a few hurdles at school but she could have had these without the meningitis. 

We have raised money for meningitis research in previous years and any breakthrough to help any type of this disease would be a blessing!

Jayme Iona
August 2009