Snapchat Star and She-amazing ‘Man of the Year’ shares meningitis story

22 May 2017
Snapchat Star and She-amazing ‘Man of the Year’ shares meningitis story

James Patrice is a presenter, Snapchat star, and one of Ireland's leading social influencers, with a social media following exceeding 120,000. What a lot of people don’t know, however, is that aged 10, James contracted a life-threatening illness, which left him fighting for his life.

James remembers: “Initially I felt a little sick after dinner one evening. It was early 2000 and I remember thinking that it must have been the 'Millennium bug' that everyone was harping on about and that I’d just eaten too much chocolate as there were still some festive bits in the house. I felt a little weak and had a sick feeling in my stomach so when it was bedtime Mum told me to sleep in the bed with her and Dad.

"At first my Mum thought that perhaps I had the flu or a stomach bug, but as the hours passed my symptoms progressed into drowsiness, not wanting to talk to anyone, not wanting to eat, and just wanting to sleep. Around 6am I went into the bathroom to try to vomit, but nothing really came up. My legs were very weak, my knees were stiff and I was extremely drowsy. I then sat on the toilet and Mum noticed red dots starting to appear on my legs, and that’s when the alarm bells went off and she knew straight away that it was meningitis. Mum and Dad immediately brought me to the GP down the road and before I knew it Dad was 'burning rubber' to get me into Temple Street where I was critically ill for 48 hours and in intensive care for three days.”

James concludes: “The doctor later told me in Temple Street that if it wasn't for my Mum and her quick thinking, I may not have made it, and frankly that frightens me so much. My Mum's knowledge made me a very lucky person, but so many others aren't.

Having survived bacterial meningitis and septicaemia, James is passionate about creating awareness of the disease and has just been unveiled as the new Ambassador of the charity Meningitis Research Foundation.

Meningitis Research Foundation is a non-government funded organisation that funds research into the prevention, detection and treatment of meningitis and septicaemia, raises awareness of the diseases amongst both the general public and health professionals and supports families affected.

James said: “I'm absolutely honoured to support Meningitis Research Foundation, because I know the devastating effects that meningitis can have on individuals and families, and if my voice and following helps to increase awareness of this absolute nightmare of an illness, then I'll scream it from the rooftops.”

There are on average 150-200 cases of bacterial meningitis and septicaemia- the blood poisoning form of the disease in Ireland every year. Sadly one in ten of those people who contract the disease will die and one in three survivors will be left with life changing after effects as severe as amputations, brain damage or deafness. Young children and young adults are most at risk but the disease can strike at any age so widespread symptoms awareness is key as early diagnosis and treatment offers the best outcome.

Caroline Krieger, Medical Information Officer, of Meningitis Research Foundation said: “We are delighted to announce James as a new Ambassador for Meningitis Research Foundation. He knows first-hand just how serious this disease can be. Thankfully his story had a happy ending but many others are not so fortunate. We really look forward to working with him to help increase meningitis awareness throughout Ireland.”

With that in mind, Mum and I urge everyone to please make themselves aware of this disease. Spend half an hour on to familiarise yourself with the symptoms and always keep them at the back of your mind.

Having meningitis is something that definitely has an effect on who you are as a person. There's not a day goes by that I don't think about having it. When you come that close to 'kicking the bucket', for want of a better phrase, you really don't sweat the small stuff. When people ask me why I'm always so upbeat and optimistic, I tell them it's because life is simply too jaysus short. I love my family so much for what they did for me too. Dad and my sister Vanessa visited me morning, noon and night and Mum literally never left my side for 10 days.

Through new vaccines there will hopefully be a further decline in cases of meningitis, but funding is needed for research, something that I know must also be highlighted as a serious issue.”

The symptoms of meningitis
The symptoms of meningitis
Meningitis and septicaemia can kill in hours - know the symptoms.
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Holly Edwards - Communications Manager
Tel: 07875 498 047
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