Thornton mum raising awareness of meningitis in memory of son

Joanna Shenfield is supporting Meningitis Awareness Week. Pic: FPA
Joanna Shenfield is supporting Meningitis Awareness Week. Pic: FPA

A Thornton mum is sharing her first-hand experience of meningitis and septicaemia as part of national Meningitis Awareness Week to ensure people are aware of the symptoms.

Joanna Shenfield lost her son David to pneumococcal meningitis and is supporting the work of the Meningitis Research Foundation to raise awareness of the deadly disease.

The international charity estimates that meningitis and septicaemia affect approximately nine people in the UK and Ireland every day.

The diseases can strike anyone of any age, without warning, killing one in 10 and leaving a quarter of survivors with life changing after effects.

Joanna explained: “I lost my son David to pneumococcal meningitis when he was aged 18. He was a lovely natured lad who had a large circle of friends and who loved his job.

“David awoke one morning with ear ache, which became worse and developed into such a severe headache that we took him to hospital.

“After taking a fit, it was confirmed that David had pneumococcal meningitis and his chances of survival were minimal.

“He spent three days in ITU before being pronounced brain dead.

“The day I lost my son was the day a piece of me died and that will always be the way it is.

“I’m supporting Meningitis Awareness Week as everyone needs to know the symptoms so they can seek medical help fast.”

Mary Millar, from the charity, said: “We’re very grateful to Joanna for supporting Meningitis Awareness Week. Meningitis and septicaemia are diseases you never expect to happen but her personal experience really brings home how devasting these diseases can be and why it’s so important to be aware of the symptoms.”

Be aware of the symptoms

Meningitis and scepticaemia can be hard to recognise at first.

Symptoms can appear in any order but the first symptoms are usually fever, vomiting, headache and feeling unwell, just like many mild illnesses. 
Some symptoms are more specific to meningitis and scepticaemia than milder illnesses including limb pain and cold hands and feet, a rash, neck stiffness, photophobia and confusion. 
Not everyone gets all these symptoms.

Scepticaemia can occur with or without meningitis.

In some cases of meningitis a rash might not appear at all.