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Grace M's story

1st March 2010

Lively Grace Elizabeth Merridan died in February 2010 from meningoencephalitis - an acute swelling of the brain and its lining

Grace M's story

Grace suffered a 'triple-whammy' of diseases when she fell ill, with meningitis and encephalitis, causing her to be rushed to Lincoln County Hospital, before she was transferred to Nottingham's Queen's Medical Centre where she contracted swine flu.

Her dad David said the speed at which she deteriorated was frightening and urges all parents to be vigilant. Grace, who lived with her mum Carolyn in Lincoln, was slightly under the weather when she went to stay with dad David on January 15. David, who is a truck driver, recalled:

"Her behaviour was a bit strange and she seemed lethargic. Grace being Grace though, we suspected she was feigning illness to get out of school on Monday.

She used to do that all the time. I feel so guilty now for not being more concerned but at this stage there was nothing to ring alarm bells – it started off with such innocent symptoms."

Dave took her back to her mum Carolyn's in Lincoln the following day and she was complaining of being sick.

He added: "I dropped her off and later found out that she had fallen over inside, then had gone up to bed. Her temperature shot up so her mum took her to hospital. It was downhill from there really."

Doctors suspected Grace had meningoencephalitis and treated her with antibiotics straightaway before transferring her to the specialist paediatric unit in Nottingham.

Sadly she fell into a coma and died two weeks later, leaving friends and family devastated.

More than 350 people attended her funeral and people have been fundraising for Meningitis Now and The Encephalitis Society ever since.

Dave paid tribute to his popular daughter, who he described as everyone's friend.

He said: "Grace was such a character. She was a beautiful kid, she really was. It was such a complete injustice for her life to be cut short like it has been.

I hope that through walks like this one for Meningitis Now that we can raise better awareness of the disease and bring home to people the urgency of getting treatment as soon as possible."