Belfast Telegraph

Down twins' traumatic fight with meningitis highlighted in new campaign

By Victoria Leonard

The mum of Northern Ireland twins who were struck down with meningitis at just a few weeks old has spoken of the "life-limiting" complications suffered by one child as part of a new charity campaign.

Banbridge woman Dawn Burrows' sons Seth and Reece, now seven, both fell ill with the devastating condition in 2010.

However, while Seth went on to make a good recovery, his sibling Reece has been left fighting severe permanent damage.

Recalling the onset of the illness, Dawn said: "Both the twins were off-form, a bit off-colour and not feeding great.

"This went on for two days before a trip in a blue light ambulance down the road on the longest journey ever.

"I can't begin to tell you exactly what went through our heads as we were running between the twins, one in the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) and one on the ward, willing them both to survive.

"Now the twins, although so alike, have so many differences because of meningitis. Seth thankfully has no complications and has made a full recovery.

"He has adopted a caring role for his twin.

"Reece has been left severely brain damaged, blind, epileptic and has a host of other complications that have unfortunately left him as a life-limited child."

The boys are two of five youngsters from across the UK chosen to feature in charity Meningitis Now's Toddle Waddle, which aims to raise awareness and funds through sponsored walks with youngsters.

The money will help the charity save lives and rebuild futures through its research, awareness and support work.

The organisation is encouraging families, nurseries and toddler groups to sign up to hold their own event.

A drawing of the twins by top illustrator Rebecca Canavan features in the charity's Toddle Waddle pack.

The illustrations show the boys cuddling a teddy and go-karting, as Reece is happiest when out in his wheelchair or playing with his teddy bear, giving him cuddles and seeing if he can fly. Meanwhile, Seth loves to be outdoors, running about or in his go-kart.

The stories of the children featured in the campaign cover a range of outcomes from the disease, from bereavement to life-limiting after-effects, amputations and recovery.

Carrie Bater, community fund-raiser at Meningitis Now, said: "Toddle Waddle is one of our favourite fund raisers which, in the last three years, has raised nearly £100,000 towards our lifesaving and life-changing work.

"We're especially pleased this year to have the support of the children - and their families, of course - and grateful to them for sharing their stories.

"They really show why it's so important to do everything we can to tackle this brutal disease."

While the events can be held at any time and place, the charity hopes as many people as possible will stage theirs during National Waddle Week, from June 4-10.

Carrie added: "Sadly, babies, toddlers and children under five are most at risk of meningitis - over half of all cases are within this age group.

"Every penny raised by our Toddle Waddlers will help save lives and rebuild the futures of those affected."

For more information visit www.toddlewaddle.co.uk or call 014 5376 8000

Belfast Telegraph

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