Mum's brave battle against meningitis

Published: 25 Sep 2012 09:30

A BRAVE meningitis survivor who was born and bred in Barrhead has told her story in the hope that her story can help people spot the symptoms before it is too late.

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Anne O'Donnell, 35, who was a percussionist for the famous Barrhead Burgh Band for 15 years, is spearheading the campaign for Barrhead locals to be more aware of the life-altering illness, which kills 3,600 people in the UK every year.

Anne moved to Clarkston following her marriage to husband Joseph, but her roots still lie in the town and Anne says she is Barrhead born and bred.

She first diagnosed the deadly disease back in 2011 and has been fighting against the destructive illness ever since.

The mother of two children - Erin, 6 and Joseph, 3 - was rushed to hospital back in February last year after her concerned husband watched her deteriorate in front of his very own eyes within two days.

Anne moved to Clarkston following her marriage to husband Joseph, but her roots still lie in the town and Anne says she is Barrhead born and bred.

Anne said: "I was pretty much out of the game when the symptoms started to arise. I went to bed on the Friday night after work and woke up with excruciating pains in my ear. At first I just thought I had an ear infection and my doctors confirmed that but by Monday things had got progressively worse so my husband Joseph forced me to go to the hospital where they confirmed it was actually meningitis.

"I was then swiftly taken to the Brownlee Ward at Gartnavel where they put me on really strong anti-biotics and steroids which helped to save my life.

"When I was first told I had meningitis it didn't really hit me as I was so physically ill I was coming in and out of consciousness. They told my husband there was a chance that I might not make it and although I wasn't aware of this at the time, when reality hit later on I just felt sheer terror and fear.

"My kids were my first concern and the thought of not being there for them was truly terrifying. Absolutely awful.

"There is a false image that people have in their heads that meningitis only affects toddlers and babies because of the posters you see in the doctor's office.

"There are many symptoms I would urge people to look out for - not just a rash - but also pains in your ear, vomiting, flu-like symptoms and extreme light-sensitivity."

Anne developed the Pneumococcal form of the disease and is still thankful to this day that her husband saved her.

She said: "What's scary is if I hadn't had someone in the house with me, I would have stayed in bed and I'd never have survived. It creeps up on you, and it is so debilitating so quickly."

Meningitis Research Foundation (MRF) says that the deadly disease can strike anyone without warning, killing one in ten, and leaving a quarter of survivors with life altering after-effects ranging from deafness and brain damage to loss of limbs.

Mary Millar, Scotland Manager at MRF also commented: "There is currently no vaccine for Meningococcal B disease which is responsible for the majority of cases of disease in the UK and Ireland. Nearly 18,000 signed our petition and this week it has been presented to 10 Downing Street, so thank you to everyone who supported us. However we must remember that vaccines do not prevent all strains of meningitis and septicaemia yet, so it's vitally important that the communities are Meningitis wise and remain aware of the symptoms."

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