The junior doctor then phoned the consultant and he came to A&E. It was only at this stage that Alan was given the appropriate treatment for meningitis. We were told that Alan would be taken to Intensive Care Unit and kept asleep on a ventilator for three days to give him a better chance. My husband and I then spoke to Alan and told him what was happening so he wouldn't be scared. He understood what we were saying and we left the room while they got him ready.
A few moments later we were informed that things had taken a very bad turn and when we got back in to Alan he was dead. Our son passed away at 6am on Friday 11th August. It was very quick and unreal. We will never know if Alan would have survived had he been treated for meningitis straight away. I believe that all people, including professionals, need to know not to wait for a rash, as it may, or may not, appear. Alan's death certificate read 'Meningococcal Septicaemia. Heart failure'.
Our lives have changed so much since that horrible day. We will never be the same again. Our larger than life wonderful son is no more. There is an ache in our hearts that we hide, as we get on with the job of everyday living. Sometimes it would be easier not to get up in the morning, but we have our other two beautiful children, Genna and Steven, to live for.
At the time of Alan's death, the hospital had to notify the health authority and we were given preventative medication. They also put us in touch with Meningitis Research Foundation. We feel they really understood our pain and we have learned so much from them. They continue to be an on-going source of support for our family. We had so many questions and they were there to answer them all for us.
I believe that we took all the right steps in attempting to seek appropriate intervention for our son Alan's presenting symptoms, but unfortunately more education is needed in hospitals.
On 11th August 2006 our lives were shattered. My husband and I were, I believe, like most parents in that we thought that 1) something like this would never come to our door, and 2) if it did, we would recognise it and be able to take the appropriate steps to save our child.
Written by: Mary Farnan