Mother backs brain bug campaign

A MOTHER whose daughter made a "miraculous" recovery from meningitis is backing a national campaign to raise awareness of the disease.Last year, ten-year-old Amy Haken, a pupil at St Michael's School, Braintree, was struck down by the disease, which can kill in hours.

A MOTHER whose daughter made a "miraculous" recovery from meningitis is backing a national campaign to raise awareness of the disease.

Last year, ten-year-old Amy Haken, a pupil at St Michael's School, Braintree, was struck down by the disease, which can kill in hours.

At one point, as they kept a bedside vigil, her distraught parents feared she could die.

Fortunately she made a full recovery and now mother Karen, from Bradwell near Braintree, is urging members of the public to join the Meningitis Research Foundation's new awareness campaign.


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Mrs Haken said: "I know just how devastating meningitis can be. Amy was ill last year and was in hospital in the two weeks leading up to Christmas. Thankfully she did recover but the situation could have been so different."

At first Mrs Haken and husband Tony thought middle daughter Amy, then aged nine, had the flu or a sickness bug. But her symptoms worsened quickly and she began to suffer from severe headaches. As she was taken to St John's Hospital in Chelmsford by ambulance she screamed for the Christmas tree lights to be switched off as they were hurting her eyes.

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Mrs Haken said: "It was in the back of my mind that she could have meningitis but you never think it's going to happen to you or your child. "Within an hour she had deteriorated so quickly but even then she did not have a rash.

"In the hospital she was diagnosed as having meningitis and she was there for two weeks. We had been told it could go either way and to prepare ourselves and that first night my husband and I just sat by her bed feeling so helpless."

However, Amy responded to the treatment and was eventually discharged from hospital on Christmas Eve. But her illness had left her in a weakened state and she did not go back to school full-time until this Easter.

Information gathered from the foundation indicates the success of recent vaccination programmes has led many people to believe wrongly that meningitis and septicaemia are diseases of the past.

But during the last three years in the UK there have been nearly 10,000 cases of meningitis and septicaemia – 1,200 of them fatal. This has spurred the foundation to call on people to "Get Up to Speed with Meningitis".

Mrs Haken, a pre-school worker who has already raised more than £3,000 for the charity, added: "It was miraculous that Amy came through unscathed and I would urge everyone to join Meningitis Research Foundation's awareness campaign.

"I would say to all parents if in doubt ring the foundation for advice and make sure you get through to a doctor. It is better to be safe than sorry, even if you have a wasted journey."

nMrs Haken will be manning an information stall in the George Yard Shopping Centre, Braintree, between 10am and 4pm on Wednesday.

nThe Meningitis Research Foundation is a national charity, which currently funds 36 research projects at home and abroad to the tune of more than £5million.

nAnyone of any age can contract meningitis or septicaemia and they can kill in hours.

nSymptoms include a rash, which will not fade if pressed with a glass, fever, vomiting, unusual breathing, stomach, joint or muscle pain, severe headache, a stiff neck and a dislike of bright lights. Not all symptoms occur all of the time.

nFor further information call the foundation's free helpline on 080 8800 3344 or log on to www.meningitis.org

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