Meningitis in your words

Simon Holohan's story

  • Location: Ireland
  • Categories: Meningococcal
  • Age: Young Adult 20-25
  • Relationship: Parent
  • Outcome: Bereavement
Simon Holohan

Hello, my name is Caroline and I am a mother of three children. In 1999 our whole family life changed with our oldest son Simon contracting meningitis.

He was in the army training to go to Ireland when we had a phone call to say he was in intensive care and that we should get down there ASAP. It was only when we arrived in the early hours of the morning that we found it to be meningitis, and that it had caused complete brain damage.

"After three days we had to take the horrendous decision to turn the machines off."

I had only ever heard of this terrible disease through the media (they say ignorance is bliss) and it affected mainly children. Simon was 20 years old, so you can imagine the shock and trauma it brought to our family. I thought he could be made to get better but after three days on life support we had to take the horrendous decision to turn the machines off.

Simon had had flu symptoms a week before, then seemed to get better and went back to his training. Whilst out field training he became unwell and had a massive headache, only later did he have a slight 'prickly heat' rash. No other symptoms. The army got him to William Harvey Hospital, where he walked in before collapsing into a coma. He was a healthy active young soldier enjoying life, and now we knew what this disease was first hand and how it can kill.

Meningitis Research Foundation has been a lifeline for me, they got in contact via a letter and we have been in contact ever since. Just knowing that there was someone who knew what we were going through, and it wasn't just 'lip service', was a life saver.

We have been involved in various fund raising projects and have raised thousands in Simon's memory.

I started running and call it my medicine, and I have taken part in four London Marathons since Simon's death. I have also participated in radio and television interviews and presentations to make people aware of this terrible disease that can affect anyone, regardless of age.

This also helps me as it keeps his memory alive, and we're also doing something useful.

Caroline Holohan
April 2009