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Eilidh Bannerman

Scotland Meningococcal Child 6-12 Recovery with After Effects Scarring - Skin Damage
Eilidh Bannerman
I was only 7 when a family holiday in Perthshire turned into a nightmare with an uncertain end. 

Being so young when I contracted meningococcal septicaemia means that my memory is a bit hazy. I do remember going swimming with my family in the hotel pool and eating caramel shortbread afterwards for a treat. Then whilst playing with my siblings, I began to feel tired and a bit unwell so returned to the room whilst my brothers and sister continued to enjoy the afternoon. From then on I don’t remember much at all but the proceeding hours will forever be etched on my parents’ minds so theirs is the story I share now. 

They knew that something wasn’t right so feeling unsettled took me to a local GP. Although, with no startlingly unusual symptoms, I was sent away to take Calpol. Through the night I became even more ill with a high temperature, vomiting and diarrhoea as well as feeling increasingly drowsy. This sent alarm bells ringing and my mum contacted the GP again but they remained confident it was simply a viral infection. 

By the early hours of the morning a rash had begun creeping over my body. The GP immediately recognised this as a tell-tale sign so rushed us off to Perth Royal Infirmary. However, as my condition deteriorated and I struggled to breathe with the septicaemia overwhelming my body it was apparent that more specialist care was required and I had to be moved ASAP. 

The Paediatric Intensive Care Retrieval team from Sick Kids’ Hospital were called to transfer me to down to Edinburgh. The amazingly talented and dedicated team, led by Dr Dave Simpson, tried tirelessly to stabilise me on the journey down. Even so, my body was now so weakened by this devastating disease that my heart stopped and I had to be resuscitated in the ambulance with my parents following behind. 

"After arriving in the intensive care unit in the Sick Kids my heart stopped another two times, and I remained on artificial ventilation and kidney dialysis as my body had been consumed by the disease and was giving up."

After arriving in the intensive care unit in the Sick Kids my heart stopped another two times, and I remained on artificial ventilation and kidney dialysis as my body had been consumed by the disease and was giving up.

My family were told there was a significant chance that I would not live through the next 24 hours. The rash continued to spread, most severely down my legs, leading to the sincere possibility of amputations, if I survived. 

My only real recollection of anything during this time was feeling as though someone was trying to push a brick through my chest, which I am told could have been the resuscitation efforts to return my heart beat to normal.

Unbelievably, my condition slowly began to improve and after a further week in intensive care and 3 more in other wards within the hospital I left with no signs of my battle except a missing toenail, a dodgy rib, some scars on my skin and a dislike of caramel shortbread.

Once home I went through intense physiotherapy to re-learn how to walk. This was extremely painful at the time, but nothing compared to the pain that my family could have been burdened with if my parents hadn’t been so persistent in getting me the initial medical attention followed by the incredible work by all of the nurses and doctors who were involved in my treatment.

I cannot help but feel extraordinarily lucky to have survived this life-altering and in some cases life-ending disease. Therefore myself and my family, particularly my amazing dad, have been fundraising for the last 17 years for Meningitis Research foundation and spreading awareness so that other families are vigilant to the symptoms and know to ACT FAST TO STOP THE SPREAD. 

The work the charity do is outstanding and will forever be close to our hearts.

Eilidh Bannerman
September 2016

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