Mum’s plight to raise awareness about meningitis

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A Halifax mother has spoken of her son’s terrifying battle with meningitis to raise awareness about the devastating disease.

Sally Butler’s son Richard, now 32, was 18 when he contracted bacterial pneumococcal meningitis and faced a battle which would end with life-changing consequences.

Speaking during Meningitis Awareness Week, which runs until September 25, Mrs Butler, 51, from Northowram, said: “It was like any normal Saturday, Richard had gone into town with his sister and when he got home he said he didn’t feel very well.

“We put it down to food poisoning, but that evening, something just told me that it was serious.”

Mrs Butler rang NHS Direct, and was told there would be an eight-hour wait for a home visit, but as her son began to cry out in pain, she knew he needed to go to hospital.

As they arrived at the hospital, Richard collapsed in the waiting room and his family’s nightmare began.

“He went into a coma and for 24 hours, we never moved from his bedside,” Mrs Butler said.

“We were told he had bacterial pneumococcal meningitis and his organs were shutting down. It was the most frightening moment of my life.

“I think I would have traded my life with the devil for him to pull through. We just had to wait it out, but on day three, he woke up and said he was hungry.

“They were the best words to hear.”

While Richard had pulled through, his family then received the devastating news that he had lost some of his hearing.

He was treated in hospital for a further two weeks and managed to regain some of his hearing. In the years since his ordeal he has been able to adapt to his situation.

Now 15 years on, Mrs Butler and her family still count their blessings.

She said: “I’m just so lucky. Someone was looking down on us, someone was sent to save us from that grief.”

She is now urging people to take action immediately if they feel something is not right. Younger people going to college or university can often be more at risk and put the symptoms - headache, vomiting, muscle pain, fever, and cold hands and feet - down to a hangover.

It’s also reccomended that young people see their GP and get the MenACWY vaccine to protect themselves from the deadly strain of the disease.