The story didn’t end there though, as through organ donation, the “kind, caring and loving” young man helped six other families hopefully not go through the loss his own family suffered. Here, Tracy tells us what happened on that awful day and why she is supporting our campaign for young people to get vaccinated and know the signs and symptoms of meningitis.
“It was Monday 22 January 2018. Lewis had texted me to say he was going to the gym on his way home from college, so he was obviously feeling fine, his usual self. That evening I helped him to apply for a replacement driving licence as he’d lost his at the weekend. While applying it asks you if you would like to sign up to the organ donor register - Lewis said he would but could we do it another time as he was going out to meet his mates."
“On Thursday, Lewis was sent home early by Morley, his dad. They worked together as joiners. I was at work, but he rang me to ask how to put the heating on, he was cold (couldn’t remember anything, or more likely didn’t listen when he was being told). I told him to get in bed if he was that cold or to take his quilt downstairs and lie on the sofa until the heating kicked in. I wouldn’t be long before I was home."
“He was on the sofa under his quilt when I got back and had flu symptoms. It was going around, lots of friends and people at work had it. Thursday was rugby training night - Lewis played and Morley is involved as coaching staff. Lewis wasn’t fit to go training, so Morley went on his own and while he was gone, I started looking at car insurance for Lewis. He needed it sorting asap or he wouldn’t be able to drive, and he loved driving."
“When Morley got home from rugby, we had tea. Lewis had a little but wasn’t very hungry really and then he said he was going to bed. He had some ibuprofen and said good night. When we went up to bed a little while after, Lewis’ light was on and I went in to check on him. He was very warm and feeling unwell, but still only flu symptoms. I told him to wake me if he needed me and I left him with some more ibuprofen."
He was obviously in pain
“Morley was up first in the morning and was having breakfast when I got up. Lewis’ light was on and I shouted "Morning!" and asked him how he was. He just said, well almost shouted, "My head". I went in and he was sat up and obviously in pain."
“I went down to tell Morley I was worried about him and to get the phone to call NHS 111. Lewis told me he had taken some more ibuprofen in the night and as I was speaking to the call centre, I knew they were talking me through meningitis symptoms (although he’d had the ACWY injection in September 2017). I just wanted to get off the call and get him to hospital."
“The drive to our nearest A&E in Halifax took less than 10 minutes. When we pulled up in the car park Lewis said he couldn’t feel his leg. By the time we got out of the car we both had to support him to get him into the building."
“There was nobody else in A&E and we saw someone straight away. He was taken through to a cubicle, but he was deteriorating in front of our eyes. Suddenly there were nurses and doctors all over him, but he was lashing out and they were struggling to get a line in to give him antibiotics. I have no idea how long we were there, it’s all a blur, but they told us they would be sedating him and taking him to intensive care in Huddersfield, where they had a bed. We really didn’t know anything at this point. We decided to drive together and meet the ambulance in Huddersfield - we were there before them which worried me."
We were scared
“When they arrived with Lewis, it was quite a while before anyone came to see us. They took us into another room, we were scared. The consultant and nurses were emotional while informing us Lewis’ condition was very serious and I don’t really think I can remember much of the conversation after that. They took him for a scan and when they brought him back, they took us back into the relatives room and told us that the swelling of his brain was so bad that there was nothing they could do… we’d lost him."
“At the time we didn’t realise that one of the nurses in the room was a transplant co-ordinator, but we initiated the conversation about donation as we knew it would be what Lewis would want. It would also give us some comfort that this horrible disease hadn’t just taken our beautiful boy for no reason."
“It did take some time for all the tests to come through to show that it was MenB. They also had to make sure that Lewis could donate his organs, there was no sepsis and the recipients were told about the meningitis, so they could make an informed decision about accepting."
“We spent three nights in hospital with Lewis. The staff were amazing, they looked after us (including family who visited) as well as they looked after Lewis. Lewis was pronounced dead on the Sunday and late that night / early Monday the teams of doctors came to do the operation for the organ donation."
“Lewis has helped six people and their families to hopefully not have to go through the loss that we have suffered and will suffer every day for the rest of our lives. Morley says that this must have been Lewis’ purpose, as he was such a kind, caring and loving person who touched so many people’s lives. We have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of love, kindness and support from everyone, friends, family, Old Rishworthian’s rugby club since losing Lewis. To date £29,396 has been raised for Meningitis Now through Lewis’ Forever Fund by all these wonderful people. We will continue to help to raise awareness in Lewis’ name."
“When Lewis started with flu symptoms it never crossed our minds it could be meningitis, because we knew he’d had the vaccination for the ACWY strains. What we didn’t know was that there are other strains of meningitis and that we could have paid for Lewis to have the MenB vaccination. We continue to let as many people as possible know so they can make sure their children are protected.”