Charlotte H’s experience

20th October 2015

Charlotte had just returned to university when she contracted meningococcal group W (Men W) meningitis

Charlotte H
She thought she had the flu when she began to experience a variety of symptoms, including feeling cold, shivering, a sore throat and a bloating feeling in her stomach.

Charlotte spent 17 days in an induced coma and awoke unable to remember what had happened to her. 

We spoke to Charlotte, now 19, about her experience:

“I started feeling unwell on Tuesday morning and by 4:17pm on Wednesday afternoon I had no energy and was unable to walk. This was the last time I ever stood on my own two feet.”

“By 6:30pm I had suffered complete organ failure and had only just developed a slight rash on my eyelids – my experience shows that you shouldn’t wait for a rash before seeking help.”

“I was put into an induced coma and after 17 days, and now being treated at Nottingham City Hospital, I was woken up and told exactly what had been happening to me.”

Although Charlotte has now recovered from meningitis, she has been left with a number of after-effects which have changed her life dramatically.

“I was left with severe memory loss – I couldn’t remember being ill at all. My hearing was also damaged, and at this stage, I was unable to move anything but my eyes and mouth.”

“I spent a total of 27 days in Intensive Care and 12 weeks on a Burns and Plastics ward. I had both legs amputated below the knee and lost all my fingers on my left hand.”

“On the 15th of June I was finally able to stay at home for the first time since February.”

“Due to severe scarring, my kidneys no longer work at the necessary rate, so I will be on dialysis every night until a kidney transplant can be achieved. Whilst I still have to attend multiple rehabilitation appointments, and spend four days a week in hospital, I’m very grateful to be alive and well.”

All 17 to 18-year-olds and first year university students (aged 19-25) in the UK are eligible for a free vaccine which protects against meningococcal A, C, W and Y bacteria. We advise getting the vaccination as soon as possible to protect yourself against the disease – as Charlotte’s experience highlights; it is a disease that can change your life forever.

What is the Men ACWY vaccine?
What are the signs and symptoms of meningitis?

Our student awareness week runs from 24 October until 30 October, support us and join the conversation #ACWYnot