Deidre, Meningitis Association of South Africa, South Africa
I am a mother of two girls and a boy. The youngest of my girls is now an angel.
In 2010, our lives changed within hours after the sudden death of my three-year-old daughter Chelsea from meningococcal meningitis.
Chelsea started vomiting on Wednesday afternoon. I brought her home from day-care and gave her medicine for vomiting. By later that evening, it seemed that she had got better. But the vomiting started again in the early hours of Thursday morning and she also had a severe fever. We rushed her to
the emergency room.
As we undressed her, we saw red marks on her body that hadn’t been there before. Right then, the doctor told us that these were all symptoms of meningitis. At 6pm that evening the doctor pronounced her brain-dead. On the morning of Friday 11 June, she passed away.
That was a special day for South Africa as it was the start of the 2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup. Everyone else was celebrating the day that we had all been waiting for. But we were the saddest family.
As I walked away from the hospital that morning I wanted to know: why? What is this disease? I discovered that there wasn’t a lot of information on meningitis available in South Africa. I started researching online as a coping mechanism and to understand what had happened to us. I founded the Meningitis Association of South Africa with the support of family and friends. Our organisation is the first and the only one of its kind in South Africa.
I know that I am not the only parent unaware of the symptoms or signs of meningitis and therefore I’m determined to spread the message. I believe that we all can make a difference by joining hands in the fight against this disease that kills within hours.
Deidre set up the Meningitis Association of South Africa in Cape Town, South Africa.
To read another personal meningitis story from around the world, click here.