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Meredith Leigh

Meredith’s son, Henry, was a bright, active junior at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, studying economics and creative writing. He also played lead guitar and wrote songs for his hometown band. One Saturday night, Henry went to the ER with a fever. The doctors ruled out pneumonia and sent him home. The next day, he could not speak clearly and the right side of his body was numb. He returned to the hospital. By the time Meredith arrived, Henry was diagnosed with meningitis and in a coma from which he never woke up. After they were told there was no sign of brain activity, his family and friends gathered in his hospital room to say goodbye.

Henry was vaccinated and had received a booster shot. Unfortunately, while vaccines available at the time covered most strains of the disease, they did not cover serogroup B disease, which was what Henry had. Currently available vaccines protect against all five major strains, including serogroup B. Meredith is now dedicated to increasing awareness of meningococcal disease and its symptoms, as well as the importance of vaccination among parents and young adults everywhere.

Ginny Marso

Ginny’s son, Andy, almost lost his life to meningococcal disease as a senior in college. Andy was three weeks shy of graduation, and in addition to finishing up classes, he wrote for a local weekly newspaper and the school newspaper. When he called Ginny to say he wasn’t feeling well, she assumed he was run down and had the flu. The next morning, however, a friend found that Andy’s legs and arms were covered with purple blotches. Andy was taken to the hospital. Andy survived the disease, but he spent a total of five months in the hospital and had to undergo amputation of most of his fingers and about one third of each foot. Andy graduated number one in his journalism class. Both his graduation ceremony and his 23rd birthday party were held in hospital.

“As parents, we do everything we can to protect our children and ensure they remain healthy,” said Ginny. “My hope is that parents begin to recognize the symptoms of meningococcal disease and the importance of prevention.”

Jane Hession

Jane Hession’s son Brendan was in high school when he died from meningococcal disease, only 16 hours after the onset of his first symptoms. It was not until after her son passed away that Jane learned about the vaccine that might have saved her son’s life. Jane is now dedicated to educating other parents about meningococcal disease and prevention, including immunization.