Saleem's story

12th November 2014

When student Saleem Akintoye spent the day in bed with a hangover, no one suspected he was about to die from meningitis

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Not a hangover

The 21-year-old was discovered dead in his bedroom and his family from Luton have spoken of their heart-breaking loss to warn students of the risks.

Saleem's sister Cindy Sitambuli-Davis is supporting our awareness campaign to ensure students know the symptoms of the devastating disease, which can kill in hours. 

The politics and international relations student was struck down in his halls at the University of Aberdeen.

Saleem had been out drinking with girlfriend Jodie Roger and her family on the Friday night. He awoke the following day feeling worse for wear and told Jodie, a 23-year-old nurse, that he just wanted to sleep off his hangover.

But when she was unable to contact him during her 12-hour shift on the Sunday, she began to worry. Cindy, 35, said: "Jodie had spoken to him on Saturday and he said he felt hungover and was going to sleep. But when he didn't reply to her text messages she began to worry and went to see him at his halls. His flatmate let her in and they found Saleem dead in his bed. When she pulled back the covers, he had a rash on his body – a classic sign of meningococcal septicaemia, which is the most dangerous form. Jodie and our whole family are absolutely devastated, especially because my older brother Kruger died of meningitis when he was 15."

Although Saleem was not born at the time of Kruger's death, Cindy says he was aware of the symptoms.

She added: "Saleem just thought he was hungover. He loved his bed and presumed he would wake up feeling better. That's why students need to be extra vigilant and know the symptoms. It's important they look out for each other too. I always think about Saleem when students head back to university each term. We miss him terribly and want to make sure the message comes across loud and clear - early identification and prompt treatment can mean the difference between life and death."

Teenagers and students are the second most at risk group, behind children aged under five.