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'Relief's the one word I can say over this introduction'

Case study 2

By Joanne Sweeney

Oliver Lewis (9) from Banbridge, Co Down, had both his legs amputated from below the knee after contracting Meningitis B when he was just 20 months old. His mother Karen tells about how a journey home from a holiday in Turkey turned into every parent's worst nightmare.

"As we were flying home from holiday in May eight years ago, we noticed that Oliver was not well. He was sleeping a lot and was floppy and lethargic. Afterwards we learned that these were typical meningitis signs.

We gave him Calpol which brought his temperature down and put him to bed thinking that it would be just a bug he had picked up.

His breathing had been shallow but had improved.

His father Alan checked him at 1am and, for some reason, then around 5am I went to check on him and he was completely covered in a rash. That was within four hours.

I knew what the rash was then, and even from when I first noticed it to when I took him to hospital, it had changed. It completely transformed before my eyes.

I will never forget the look of horror and pity on the nurses' faces when I brought Oliver into A&E at Daisy Hill. It was like 'how are we ever going to tell this girl?'

He was put into a medically induced coma and transferred to the Royal Victoria Hospital. I was told then to ring my family as they didn't expect him to pull through. It was obvious very quickly with Oliver that the poison had badly damaged his toes and feet.

We were just so glad that it didn't affect him neurologically.

It might sound strange but they had to remove the poisoned parts of his body before he could get well.

We had to wait to get a line of delineation to mark where to do the amputation.

Once the amputation happened about two weeks after he left intensive care, he began to get better.

Oliver knows exactly what happened to him when he was little, how there was no vaccine to help him and he really does manage brilliantly. But maybe because he is getting older, there are time when it is difficult for him to accept and we have noticed some questioning 'why me?' moments.

However, relief is the one word that I can say regarding the introduction of the vaccine, and not to sound too twee also 'at last'. To know that it was out there and not be available to people, that has been hard.

It's a relief to know that it's there now."

JOANNE SWEENEY

 

Upper Bann MP David Simpson with Oliver and his mother

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