T.E.A.M. member (survived at age 52 years)
M.O.M. of Melissa (age 17 years)
Madeline Duarte’s daughter Melissa was in high school when a potentially vaccine-preventable disease tragically took her life. Melissa stayed home from school one day with flu-like symptoms and when Madeline returned home from work, she found Melissa unconscious in her bed. It was only after her daughter’s death that Madeline and her family learned about meningococcal disease and that immunization may have saved her daughter’s life.
M.O.M. and T.E.A.M. Member (Matt survived at age 17 years)
Nanci Phillip’s son Matt was 17-years-old when he contracted meningococcal disease. One January night, Matt woke up with a high fever. Nanci thought it was the flu and gave him Tylenol. That morning, he was weak, vomiting, confused, and complaining of ankle pain. Nanci brought him to the emergency room where Matt lost consciousness and developed a purplish rash. A doctor recognized the rash as a symptom of meningococcemia, a blood infection. As a result of the disease, Matt lost the tips of two fingers, and his memory, hearing and kidney function are impaired. Although doctors told Matt his legs would never be able to support his weight again, through rehabilitation he is now able to walk.
“I was a registered nurse at the time my son got sick, but I had never heard of meningococcal disease. I didn’t know what to look for and didn’t know that vaccination could help,” said Nanci. “I encourage other nurses, doctors and parents to help protect their patients and children by having them vaccinated against meningococcal disease.”
Kayla St. Pierre
T.E.A.M. member (survived at age 10 years)
What started off as an ordinary day almost caused Kayla St. Pierre to die from a rare, but potentially deadly, bacterial infection called meningococcal disease. She survived, but not without fighting for her life—a fight that required a medically induced coma, amputations of her limbs, as well as a kidney transplant and extensive rehabilitation.
One morning in March 2000, Kayla went to school as normal, but as the day went on, she began to feel terribly ill. She left school early, complaining of pain in her legs. Concerned, her parents took Kayla home to rest, but unfortunately she was not getting better. Within hours of the first symptoms she could not walk and discovered a purple rash on her body. Her parents took her to Lawrence General Hospital in Lawrence, Massachusetts, where doctors recognized the illness as meningococcal disease and transported her to Children’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts. Kayla’s illness was severe, but could have been worse if not detected early; since meningococcal disease intensifies quickly and the lack of early diagnosis can lead to death.
Doctors were forced to place Kayla in a medically induced coma to help her body fight the disease. Then, in order to save her life, they had to amputate Kayla’s legs below the knee and some of her fingers. Later, as a result of the illness, Kayla experienced organ damage commonly associated with the potentially fatal infection, and underwent a kidney transplant.
For three months, Kayla received extensive medical care at Children’s Hospital, and she was then moved to Boston’s Shriner’s Hospital for rehabilitation. After nearly 11 months in the hospital and extensive rehabilitation she was ready to be released.
Kayla is now a college student and enjoys many sports including snowboarding, mono-skiing, playing ping-pong and hanging out with her friends. She plans to purue a career in the medical field, possibly a nurse, to give something back to the nurses and doctors that helped her through her illness.