We use necessary cookies that allow our site to work. We also set optional cookies that help us improve our website For more information about the types of cookies we use, visit our Cookies policy and manage your preferences.


Steven H's story

18th January 2024

The shock of watching her young son Steven die quickly from pneumococcal meningitis prompted Melanie to write a book about her experience and the course of the disease.

Steven's Story blog frame

“My son Steven was diagnosed with pneumococcal meningitis in 2006 when he was just two- years-old."

“Before Steven fell ill, his three-year-old sister Michelle Charleen, was ill. She developed a fever of 40 degrees, she felt nauseous, she had a cough and a runny nose. With appropriate medication from the doctor we consulted, she became healthy.

“A week later, Steven fell ill with the same symptoms as his sister. It started with a cough, runny nose and fever. I didn't think much about it at first, because I assumed that Steven would get well just like his sister.

Nausea and vomiting

“He fell ill on the 28th of January and on the 30th of January he had nausea and vomiting, and then the fever increased. I decided to see the paediatrician on January 31st.

“The doctor examined Steven in her office and sent me home with him. She said I should continue to watch my son and if he wasn’t any better by the evening, I should take him to the clinic.

“When I got home, I gave Steven liquid to drink and held him in my arms. His breathing was very fast and he was just sleeping, not waking up at all. The condition was disturbing. I decided to call the paediatrician to register us as an emergency at the children's hospital.

Started screaming

“Meanwhile, Steven started screaming. He was in insane pain. He stuck his little fist down his throat and screamed. I got very scared and couldn't explain what was wrong with my son. On the way to the hospital, I kept asking myself ‘what has he got?’

“Very quickly we were at the hospital; it was not far away. Steven was immediately examined by a doctor and a second doctor joined us. A lumbar puncture was ordered to see if the cerebrospinal fluid was cloudy – a standard examination for suspected meningitis.

“Steven had already developed brain swelling at this point, which was not considered. Due to the decrease in his cerebrospinal fluid, there was an imbalance in the pressure gradient and his brain stem was rapidly pinched. These unbelievable scenes took place in front of me.

Deeply shocked

“That night he died of brain death caused by the pneumococci that had penetrated his meninges. I was deeply shocked. I had never heard of such a course of the disease before.

“This led me to write a book about the course of my son's disease and to explain with medical content exactly how bacterial meningitis progresses in the body.

“I would like to draw this to the attention of other parents and families. The book is currently available in German via Amazon. Its title is Mama, ich habe eine Hirnhautentzündung (Mum, I have meningitis).”

Melanie would appreciate it if someone is willing to help her translate her book into English, so it could be read by many more people. If any of our supporters could do this please contact us on info@meningitisnow.org and we’ll put you in touch.