We need to be more aware of meningitis, says man who fought it twice
A man who has beaten meningitis twice has urged people to be more aware of the potentially deadly condition.
Barry Patrick was speaking out on World Meningitis Day.
The 50-year-old Belfast man is a volunteer for the Meningitis Now charity, which offers support to those affected by the disease as well as funding research.
Mr Patrick first developed meningitis in September 2015 after undergoing ear surgery.
He recalled: "I had been warned that one of the risks of surgery was contracting meningitis.
"But you never think it's going to happen to you, do you?
"I was tired and sluggish for several weeks afterwards."
His second scare was exactly a year later.
He was feeling very tired and took a nap, but soon realised his symptoms were much more serious.
His decision to dial 999 was a crucial one.
He explained: "Later that afternoon, I woke up with the same crushing headache, and started vomiting again. I knew the meningitis had returned.
"Something made me dial 999 and call for an ambulance instead of calling my doctor. Considering how critically ill I became, I believe this action saved my life. I honestly believe that if I'd had to wait for a doctor to come out to me, I wouldn't have survived."
He added: "Later I was told that my sisters had been told by doctors that they didn't think I was going to survive.
"And if I did survive that I could well have brain damage, paralysis, hearing loss, sight loss, learning difficulties and behavioural problems."
Mr Patrick said he was speaking out to highlight the bravery of fellow survivors, as well as those who have lost loved ones to meningitis.
He added: "By telling my story, raising awareness of the signs and symptoms and increasing vaccine knowledge, I can raise the profile of this devastating disease.
"Meningitis can wreck lives and it's vital that everybody understands how serious it can be for individuals and families. That's why I'm supporting World Meningitis Day."
Mr Patrick said charities like Meningitis Now are vital.
He added: "I honestly believe that had it not been for charities like Meningitis Now, researching into treatments and vaccines for the various types of meningitis, I would not be here today."
Around 22 cases of meningitis occur each day across the UK. The disease can strike in hours, and can leave suffers with lasting after-effects such as deafness, limb loss and brain damage.
Dr Tom Nutt, Meningitis Now chief executive, said World Meningitis Day is an opportunity to showcase the bravery of meningitis survivors and those who have lost a loved one.
"On World Meningitis Day, as on every other day, we are here to help and support those who need us," he said.
"We're not about quick fixes; we're here to provide tailored support with long-term impact that will really help people and families to rebuild their lives after meningitis."
Further information can be found via www.meningitisnow.org. The charity's helpline can be contacted by dialling 0808 80 10 388.