A MOTHER and son are calling on the government to implement increased meningitis vaccines by sharing their story.
Baxenden woman Janet Watson, 54, says the memory of the night she almost lost her 11-year-old son to the disease still haunts her, even 15 years later.
She is now working with Meningitis UK in an awareness campaign by telling her story.
As the symptoms of the illness are so hard to pin point, her son Matthew, who was vomiting and complaining of a stiff neck, was sent home from casualty when he became ill in 1996.
The following day, Janet said she found the pupil at Peel Park Primary School, Accrington, delirous and unresponsive.
She then embarked on “a living nightmare” over the next 24 hours as doctors said he may not survive, and that a quarter of those with the illness suffer complications such as brain damage, sight and hearing loss.
Janet, a teacher at Whalley Primary School, said: “He had neck pains, but had fallen earlier, so they x-rayed him. He was vomiting, but the doctors sent us home.
“The next morning he began shouting out and he was burning up. He was a very strange grey colour. I had never seen anyone look like that before. Janet pulled him out of bed and carried him to the car, before driving to a GP’s surgery.
She said: “By the time I got there he had a rash on his legs. The doctor called an ambulance, and Mat-thew started screaming.
“My husband met me at the hospital where doc-tors said the next 24 hours were critical. Even then, a quarter of meningitis suf-ferers have serious com-plications.”
Over the next four days the rash spread across Matthew’s body and affected his hearing, a side effect which persisted for weeks.
However this graually improved and he came through the disease without any ill effects.
Now Janet and Matthew, who is now 27 and works as a joiner, are supporting Meningitis Research Foundation (MRF)’s campaign, calling on Government to pursue the widest and earliest implementation of existing vaccines.
Christopher Head, chief executive of MRF said: “Vaccination provides peace of mind for every parent across the country and to date over 4,000 people agree with us and have signed our online petition.”
To find out more about the meningitis campaign visit www.meningitis.org.