“My daughter Mariah was 13 months old. She showed little sign of being ill. Although she wasn’t her usual self there was nothing which could have alerted me to anything other than teething troubles or a cold – she was off her food and very tired. If I had known then all the signs and symptoms of meningitis when she was poorly that day I would have rushed her to A & E.
“But I didn’t know.
“Mariah passed away in her sleep at home in her cot. We found her in the morning, not breathing and covered in a rash.”
Tests revealed Mariah had died of Meningitis B, the most common form of meningitis in the UK and one of the most deadly.
“Mariah was such a happy little girl. She hardly ever cried; she was just so content. The best baby you could ever wish for. You can’t believe a disease like that is out there. You just don’t believe it will happen to you. I’m finding it hard to write this, but it’s important to help raise awareness.
“Since then, I’ve become a Community Ambassador for Meningitis Now and raised £17,000 in memory of Mariah.
“It’s really important we get this vaccine introduced as soon as possible, so other families don’t face the heartbreak we have.”
Meningitis Now founder, Steve Dayman, who lost his 14-month-old son Spencer to the disease in 1982, added: “What happened to Mariah shows just how fast meningitis can take hold and how notoriously difficult it is to diagnose.
“There was nothing that could have been done and this is why our primary aim is to find vaccines and other preventative measures to stop the disease before it happens.”
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