A Larne family has donated over £1,000 to a meningitis charity.
A fund-raiser was organised by Joanne Meek and Chris Baxter, from Lindara, in recognition of the care they received from the Meningitis Trust when their son Kenzie was struck down by the devastating disease when he was just four-months-old.
Kenzie, who is now fully recovered and a healthy six-year-old, gave his parents the scare of their lives when he contracted Meningococcal Group B.
Joanne said: “The support we got from the Trust was invaluable. The specialist nurse guided us through the jargon and gave us a clear picture of what was happening.”
Recalling the traumatic period, she indicated that Kenzie had been a “very settled” baby who rarely cried.
“On Saturday night, he cried and cried. There seemed to be something annoying him although we thought it was just wind and gave him gripe water but we could not settle him. By Sunday morning, I phoned the Dalriada doctor and took him to Whiteabbey Hospital. When we got there, they sent us straight to the Royal.
“There was no rash whatsoever. We were not thinking meningitis but something was not right.”
Joanne went on to say that a doctor at the Royal Victoria Hospital, in Belfast, immediately diagnosed meningitis and a rash started to appear.
Kenzie was admitted to an isolation ward where he remained for a week. He had to undergo a lumbar puncture and had drips attached to his arm.
“The rash did not get a chance to become very bad although it was visible”, she added.
Joanne said she believed that the disease was treated so promptly because Kenzie was “in the right place at the right time”.
And it was only on her son’s discharge from hospital that nursing staff said that they had feared that he may not recover.
Joanne went on to say that she had been worried not just for Kenzie but her daughter Tori, then aged six, who had been exposed to the illness. The whole family had to be treated with medication as a precaution.
She indicated that Tori had difficulty understanding Kenzie’s condition and the support of the Meningitis Trust had been invaluable providing a booklet, specially published for children, for her to read.
“We were spoken to in medical terms at the Royal. The meningitis nurse came in an simplified everything for us. It was really brilliant.”
“It was an absolute nightmare, the scariest part of my life.”
Kenzie had to return to the hospital for a hearing test a month later before he could be given the all-clear.
“When we were visited by our minister, he told us he thought he was going to have to do a hospital Christening. The nurses said Kenzie was at death’s door.”
Joanne has advised parents who have any concerns about a sick child to act immediately.
“The quicker you get them medical help, the better. Do not hold back. You can’t take a chance with a sick child.”
To show their appreciation of the Meningitis Trust, Joanne and Chris, a keen darts player, organised a match in aid of the charity.
The “Gers” darts team was delighted to be able to present the Meningitis Trust with a cheque for £1,180 raised during the event at Larne Football and Rugby Club.
This was further boosted by a donation of £250 from FG Wilson.
And Chris is also planning a second fund-raiser - an abseil down Belfast’s Europa Hotel with friend Scott Nelson.
The Meningitis Trust says that the funds will “help the Trust achieve its mission to help support local families to cope with the life-changing effects this deadly disease can bring.”
“On behalf of the Meningitis Trust, we would like to thank not only Chris and Gers’ darts teams for their tireless fundraising, but also Larne Rugby and Football Club, FG Wilson and all the local business that supported the evening.
“Without this, the Trust would not be able to continue their support in Northern Ireland”, a spokesperson said.
To learn more about The Meningitis Trust or donate, visit www.meningitis-trust.org or contact us on twitter or facebook http://www.facebook.com/#!/MTNorthernIreland