Liam K's story

12th February 2015

Liam was a fit and healthy footballer, who fell ill with swine flu shortly after his 13th birthday. It is thought the virus weakened his immune system and meant he was unable to battle the meningitis bug. 

Liam-K

His parents Andy and Georgina have raised over £50,000 in memory of their "loving, happy and caring" son through the Liam Keeling Memorial Fund.

Liam had been off school two days the week before half term with a cold but he shook it off and went back to school on the Thursday. He went on a school trip to the Black Country Museum and three friends stayed for a sleepover after school. He played with them all Friday, then went to a race night with his dad and Wyrley Junior team mates in the evening. Then, at about 4pm on Saturday, he had a headache, temperature and was being sick. He experienced a rigor - an episode of uncontrollable shaking brought on by a high temperature.

Swine flu diagnosed

Georgina phoned the doctors' out-of-hours service who asked them to check for a rash but as Liam didn't have one they diagnosed swine flu. The symptoms persisted and, after a second phone call, the doctors recommended continuing to take paracetamol and nurofen.

By Tuesday morning Liam had stopped being sick, his temperature had lowered and he was being his cheeky self. In return, he was teased about being sick in the school holidays.

He had walked downstairs to lie on the sofa with a blanket and was watching some television when he told Georgina he was going to have a nap.

Discovered motionless

Georgina, who had been sitting on the floor next to the sofa, discovered that Liam was motionless shortly afterwards and hurriedly called for an ambulance.

Andy added: "I had taken my older daughter Hannah and her boyfriend to WaterWorld in Stoke and got a call from Georgina at about 2pm saying to hurry home. The paramedics resuscitated Liam on the way to hospital but he died later that afternoon with his family round him."

It is thought Liam initially had swine flu, which weakened his immune system and meant he was unable to fight the meningitis-causing bacteria. Tests revealed that he died of meningitis and septic shock.

Disbelief

Andy says the family feels a sense of disbelief that a fit and healthy teenager could die so suddenly after displaying only flu-like symptomsFriends have rallied round to raise money since his death, with Andy and Georgina's colleagues at the Royal Mail and Barclays Bank respectively organising several fundraisers before Christmas. They hope their efforts in his memory will help prevent hundreds of lives being lost to the devastating disease in the future.

Andy added: "Over 600 people turned up for his funeral and they couldn't all fit into the church. We've been really comforted by everyone's support and enthusiasm for fundraising.

"Liam was a loving, happy, caring, contented young man, who would chat away in his friendly manner with young or old alike. He would have people laughing with just an odd word or two, together with the mischievous twinkle in his eye! Whoever he came into contact with, Liam would add an extra sparkle to their lives.

"He loved life and everyone who came into contact with him felt his love and enthusiasm for everything."

Liam's football manager Shaun Flaherty described him as a very polite, well-mannered young man, who never had a bad word to say about anyone and a credit to his parents.

His headmaster Mr Burrowes added: "I knew Liam very well. He was a talented footballer and charming young man. His decency and humanity made him stand out and he went out of his way to make everyone feel welcome. He had an easy presence with the staff and children and was relaxed and thoughtful, a natural leader."

Liam was passionate about all sports, especially football and was a season ticket holder for Walsall FC.

A host of former Walsall footballers signed up for a charity match against Wyrley Juniors FC, and a charity evening at Walsall FC sold out in record time.

All the money raised will go towards Meningitis Now’s vaccine campaign. A Forever Fund has been set up in memory of Liam with all money raised through his memorial fund being added to the total.

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