Rudolf and Katherine's Story
Rudolf and Katherine, NAHLAS, Czech Republic
Our youngest son, Ondra, became seriously ill with pneumococcal meningitis at 22 months of age. We can say that he was fortunate because he survived, yet he will bear one of the consequences of this insidious disease all of his life – hearing loss.
At the end of July 2006, we took little Ondra to our family doctor, who found him to have otitis media and told us to give him some eardrops. Ondra felt good until that evening, when he began to vomit and developed a fever. Since his condition did not improve, we took him to the hospital the next morning, but the doctor prescribed only Panadol and sent us back home.
Ondra felt worse, his fever did not decline and we noticed that he didn't move his head. We went to the hospital again because we suspected meningitis, one of the symptoms of which is a stiff neck. In the hospital they decided that Ondra was only dehydrated. Then the doctors agreed to do a lumbar puncture to confirm or rule out meningitis. The sample confirmed the presence of inflammation and Ondra received antibiotics.
We spent a few months in the hospital and then were sent to a spa. There we became suspicious because, although Ondra felt much better, he had lost his hearing as a result of the inflammation. Before the disease he had learned to say words that suddenly he could not speak. Again we went through all sorts of examinations and started to search for information on our own. We insisted that Ondra be examined by specialists who recommended that we go a hospital in Prague (Czech Republic), where they had introduced cochlear implants for children.
These very demanding operations, which may return hearing, are recommended only for children under three years of age and our time was running out. Fortunately, we had all the necessary tests and it seemed that Ondra would have a cochlear implant by autumn.
We started to learn sign language with him and Ondra is excellent, although it is very difficult. Two years after his implant, Ondra is starting to speak fluently and he makes all of us very happy.
We know that this dramatic story would not necessarily have happened if we had known of the existence of a vaccination against pneumococcal infections and had vaccinated our little Ondra. But we did not know about it until it was too late.
We decided to talk about our experiences and to alert all parents to the potential danger to their young children from pneumococcal disease. We formed NAHLAS to inform parents, raise awareness and advocate for the introduction of vaccines, because the life and health of our children are, for us, the absolutely most important things.
Rudolf and Katherine formed NAHLAS in Prerov, Czech Republic.
To read another personal meningitis story from around the world, click here.