David F's story

11th November 2014

David Fay had been suffering from flu-like symptoms before he was rushed to hospital at the end of April, 2010

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Heart-breaking days

He sadly lapsed into a coma and died. Tests later confirmed that he had meningoencephalitis - a rare form of viral meningitis which causes inflammation of the brain.

His girlfriend Sue Gaywood, who had been going out with David for almost eight years, recounted the heart-breaking days when what appeared to be a harmless bout of the flu turned into tragedy.

Flu-like symptoms

David, who worked in computing, initially displayed classic flu symptoms with an aching body and high temperature. He then began being sick and had diarrhoea. The symptoms lasted for five or six days before alarm bells started to ring.

Sue, who used to live in Lewisham with David, said: "On the Wednesday night he started talking to himself and became confused and agitated. He had suffered from flu before but this suddenly seemed much worse. I mentioned meningitis to him but there was no rash or aversion to bright light. We took him to the doctors but he wasn't sure what was wrong so sent us home with sickness and diarrhoea tablets".

"He told us to take David to hospital if he didn't get any better. Within two hours of seeing the doctor on the Thursday we called an ambulance because he was unable to walk unaided and showing no signs of improvement."

A turn for the worse

Tests revealed that David had viral meningitis and doctors initially predicted he would make a good recovery, but things took a turn for the worse when he was rushed to intensive care and sedated.

He slipped into a coma on the Wednesday and sadly died at Lewisham Hospital on May 8.

Sue added: "People just don't associate meningitis with people of David's age. It was such a shock when he died and we still can't believe it now. I thought I knew what symptoms to look out for but not every form leads to a rash. It was only when I started looking into the disease that I realised how many different types there are and that anyone can get it. People need to be alert and act quickly if they're concerned."

There are more than 6,000 cases of viral meningitis in the UK every year and meningoencephalitis is one of the most serious complications.

Sue recently completed the Southampton Big Fun Run alongside her sister Gillian Gaywood, David's sister Rose Fay and friend Beth Tearle. The four friends, under the name Team D, put their best foot forward to raise vital funds for Meningitis Now to help with its fight against the devastating disease. Sue said they wanted to raise awareness while completing a challenge to make David proud.

She said: "David was a happy, fun loving person, who enjoyed running, going to the gym and playing golf with his mates. He was a people person and did so much for everyone else, so we thought this was the perfect way to do something in David's memory and help protect people from meningitis in the future".

"We started as a team and crossed the finish line together in 40 minutes. We're so pleased to have raised over £1,600 and plan to continue fundraising."