M.O.M. of Cherice (age 19 years)
As a freshman in college, Claudette’s daughter, Cherice, was an outstanding student and a healthy young woman with dreams of attending medical school. On March 21, 2001, Claudette’s world was turned upside down when she learned that her daughter had died that morning from meningococcal disease, a serious, but vaccine-preventable bacterial infection. Cherice had been experiencing flu-like symptoms the day before and went to the school’s health services. She was diagnosed with the flu and told to go home and rest. It was only after Cherice’s death that Claudette learned a simple vaccination may have saved her daughter’s life.
“Cherice left behind a legacy of leadership and volunteerism,” said Claudette. “With that in mind I am working to help educate parents about the dangers of meningococcal disease and the importance of prevention methods.”
M.O.M. of Larry (survived at age 27 years)
Lannie Bratton’s son, Larry, almost lost his life in April 2008 to meningococcal disease. Larry began feeling a burning sensation in his skin, so his sister drove him to the hospital. Larry soon developed a purplish rash, a classic symptom of meningococcal disease, but doctors thought that he was having an allergic reaction. That night, Larry suffered from nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and body aches. Soon his kidneys began to fail and doctors told Lannie to come to the hospital immediately because Larry was not expected to survive. As Larry’s skin started to turn black, a doctor suspected he might have bacterial meningitis and later confirmed the diagnosis through a blood test. With treatment, Larry’s condition improved, but he experienced severe scarring all over his body due to the disease and endured skin grafts and multiple surgeries.
“Have your children vaccinated, and spread the word about preventing meningococcal disease,” says Lannie. “A simple vaccine can help protect your family from this devastating disease.”
M.O.M. of Kyle (survived at age 16 years)
Nancy Day of Dallas, Texas, never suspected meningococcal disease, a rare, yet potentially deadly bacterial infection, could strike her 16-year-old son Kyle. One Sunday morning, Kyle woke up complaining of a headache and nausea. Thinking he was coming down with the flu, Nancy suggested he take a nap. When Nancy checked on Kyle later that day, she noticed that he was in a semi-conscious state and had developed a rash all over his body. After being rushed to the hospital, doctors performed a spinal tap and confirmed Kyle had meningococcal disease. As a result of the disease, Kyle lost his thumb and two fingers. While Nancy had heard of meningococcal disease, she was unaware there was a vaccine available that could have helped protect her son.
M.O.M. of Rachel (age 19 years)
Tammy’s daughter, Rachel, a gifted dancer and a talented volleyball player, tragically lost her life on September 22, 2007 to meningococcal disease. Rachel was a sophomore in college with plans to attend law school. When Rachel began feeling under the weather, she and her friends assumed it was because they were up late the night before. When a roommate came by to see how she was feeling, Rachel said she felt like she was coming down with the flu and had a terrible headache. When she tried to get out of her bed, Rachel collapsed and had a seizure. Her roommates called 911 and once Rachel arrived at the hospital doctors sedated her because she was having trouble breathing. Sadly, Rachel never woke up.
“As a parent, we try to do all that we can to protect our children. Unfortunately, I did not know about meningococcal disease or the importance of vaccination. By raising awareness of meningococcal disease and prevention, my hope is to prevent other families from having to experience this devastating disease.”
M.O.M. and T.E.A.M. Member (Kelli survived at age 34 years)
While Joan Sawyer had heard of meningococcal disease, vaccination against the disease was not a requirement when her daughter, Kelli, went to college. In fact, it wasn’t until Kelli battled the disease at the age of 34 that Joan learned of the true dangers of meningococcal disease and the importance of immunization. Kelli survived, but had to undergo amputation of her right leg below the knee and her left foot in order to save her life. Joan and her family feel quite fortunate that Kelli survived and are now dedicated to raising awareness of the disease with their community.
“I read an article about meningococcal disease a week before Kelli got sick,” said Joan. “I never thought that Kelli was at risk of contracting this disease and I want to make sure other families can protect their children.”
M.O.M. and T.E.A.M. Member (Jamie survived at age 20 years)
Patsy’s 20-year-old daughter, Jamie, almost lost her life in November 2008 to meningococcal meningitis. Jamie was visiting with a friend and began to feel nauseous and was having trouble breathing. The next day Jamie was so weak she could hardly walk down the stairs. Concerned, Jamie’s sister took her to the emergency room. Upon arrival, she was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit/Isolation and a few days later was placed on a ventilator to help her body survive the initial infection. Three months later, doctors were forced to amputate Jamie’s fingers on both hands and both legs above the knee, but Jamie survived. While Patsy was aware that a vaccine existed for meningococcal disease, she did not have Jamie vaccinated because she did not know the risk for the disease and doctors never discussed the importance of vaccination with her.
“Parents need to be aware of meningococcal disease and speak with their health care providers about protecting their children,” said Patsy. “Vaccination is the best way to prevent this devastating disease.”