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Jab scientist talks of hopelessness

A man has spoken of his feelings of "hopelessness" after his baby son died from a strain of meningitis for which he was working on a vaccine.

Scottie Kern, from Swindon, Wiltshire, lost his 11-month-old son Cailan when he died of pneumococcal meningitis in May 2009.

Although Cailan had been fully vaccinated, he just missed out on a new jab which would have covered his strain of the disease.

Mr Kern, 39, spoke of his loss as he and other bereaved parents use Meningitis Awareness Week to push for more to be done to combat the disease. He said when he found out his son had died from the exact disease he was working to prevent he was overcome with a feeling of hopelessness.

"I couldn't believe it. I genuinely couldn't believe that what I was trying to do, the whole reason I got into clinical research, was to be part of a process that prevented a disease and maybe even prevented death, improved lives," he said.

"I wanted to be part of that process and I had been in it for around 15 years at the time.

"For me to be involved in something that took a significant part of my working life and then to have my own son die from pneumococcal meningitis - I couldn't get any real sense of what is logical and what is illogical.

"It's an absolute vacuum and I felt like I was banging my head against a wall all the time and I just simply could not fathom it.

"It is still sometimes a little tricky to get a true sense of what is right and wrong and I sat in that place for a long time and am partly still in it.

"One thing that disappears is any sense of hope. Hopelessness is the most prevailing sensation through all that."

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