Student raises awareness at Christmas

04 Dec 2019
Student raises awareness at Christmas

A student is helping MRF to raise awareness and funds, after she contracted the disease at Christmas three years ago. 

MRF's 12 days of Christmas campaign is an urgent call to support twelve days of action to prevent death and disability from meningitis as cases rise in the winter months.

Shirali Patel, then a first year medical student at Cambridge, became rapidly ill when she returned home at the start of the Christmas holidays. On the Monday before Christmas she woke up suddenly with an inflamed throat.  Her GP advised her to take paracetamol and monitor it but the next day she got a lot worse and became feverish.

Shirali said: “I was a first year medical student but even I did not know that my illness was about to become so life threatening. I rapidly declined. I couldn’t leave my room without a real struggle.  My brother got me to the GP again. Realising the seriousness of the situation the GP called an ambulance to get me straight to A&E and I got even worse on the way there. I was taken into the ICU where at first the doctors thought I might have leukaemia. Later, I was diagnosed with meningococcal W septicaemia (MenW)."

Shirali was critically ill and the doctors prepared her parents for the worst, telling them she had little chance of survival.  Shirali missed out on being immunised against MenW, despite being eligible, as she hadn’t been offered the MenACWY vaccine by her GP surgery: “If my brother had not been at home that day to take me to see a doctor I would not have made it. Thanks to the quick treatment I received I pulled through and I was able to leave hospital a month later. I had to defer university for a year while I got better but I feel very lucky that I have made a good recovery.”

"If my brother had not been at home that day to take me to see a doctor I would not have made it"

“I’m supporting the launch of MRF’s new campaign as I want to help them raise awareness of signs and symptoms, it can make all the difference to save someone’s life.  If you can this Christmas, please donate to their 12 Days of Christmas Appeal.”

Vinny Smith, Chief Executive of MRF said, “We’re pleased Shirali has made a good recovery from meningitis and septicaemia, and grateful that she is supporting our Christmas fundraising and awareness campaign.”

“During the 12 Days of Christmas campaign we will be distributing awareness materials to those at highest risk so that people know the signs and symptoms before the holidays and can take action fast to save lives. We also need funding to supporting research to understand if people with wintertime infections, like flu, are more likely to carry high numbers of meningitis bacteria and therefore be more infectious. You can help fund this vital work.”

Early symptoms are usually fever, vomiting, headache and feeling unwell. Limb pain, pale skin, and cold hands and feet often appear earlier than the rash, neck stiffness, dislike of bright lights and confusion.

Over winter, there are three times more cases of bacterial meningitis than in summer months. Wintertime illnesses, like flu, are thought to enable meningitis causing bacteria to invade the body more easily through the nose and throat, and they can spread more rapidly when people spend longer periods together indoors.

Find out more about the 12 Days of Christmas campaign here.

Action and support - Support our life saving work and help defeat meningitis for good.
Meningitis and septicaemia can kill in hours - know the symptoms.
You don’t need to face meningitis and sepsis alone
A global vision for meningitis by 2030 and an action plan to get there.
Media contact
Holly Edwards - Communications Manager
Tel: 07875 498 047
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