A mother who nearly lost her daughter to meningitis has warned people to know the symptoms.
Gabi Draper, 31, from Shoreham is sharing her experience to make sure people are aware of the symptoms, know to be vigilant and act fast when coming across the disease ahead of Meningitis Awareness Week.
When Gabi’s daughter Skye was 16 months old, she almost lost her life to pneumococcal meningitis – and the disease has changed their lives.
Gabi said: “We took her to the doctors when she had a high temperature and they prescribed her antibiotics for a chest infection.
“She was up and down for a few days and at our first visit to A&E the doctors thought it was a viral infection and we were sent home.
“A couple of days later I noticed she was just lying still, not reacting to anything but her eyes were twitching and her temperature was still really high.
“An ambulance took her back to hospital where she had a lumbar puncture and our worst fears were confirmed that it was meningitis.
“The doctors started treatment straight away and after weeks of Skye being in intensive care we found out that she would be brain damaged.
“Eventually she started to smile, laugh, grab toys, see, hear and recognise people. We are just so happy she is still with us and time will tell how much she is able to do.
“Based on my experience I would advise all parents to: know the symptoms of meningitis, trust your instincts and don’t be afraid to return to a health professional if you’re still not happy with your child’s symptoms.”
Meningitis Awareness Week is run by Meningitis Research Foundation (MRF).
The charity estimates that there have been on average around 3,200 cases of meningitis and septicaemia every year in the UK. They are deadly diseases that can strike without warning, killing one in ten, and leaving a quarter of survivors with life altering after-effects ranging from deafness and brain damage to loss of limbs.
Babies, toddlers and young adults are most at risk.
MRF Chief Executive, Vinny Smith said: “We are so grateful to Gabi for raising awareness in West Sussex during Meningitis Awareness Week.
“MRF funds vital scientific research into the prevention, detection and treatment of meningitis and septicaemia but there are still some forms of the disease which are not covered by vaccines so it is vital that people are aware of the symptoms.
“We encourage parents to get medical help if they are concerned about their child, to be vigilant, and to return to a health professional if they have been sent home but symptoms progress.”
For more information about Meningitis Awareness Week and how to spot the signs of the disease, visit meningitis.org/maw2016.
For any questions about meningitis, septicaemia and vaccinations that can prevent the diseases call Meningitis Research Foundation’s Freefone helpline on 080 8800 3344 or log on to meningitis.org.
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