‘Pole lot of fun’ to put disease in a spin

4th June 2015

A mum whose baby died of meningitis after suffering massive heart attacks invites everyone to a fun-filled evening to defeat the deadly disease

Pole dancing fundraiser
Emma and Darren Cowey, of Tullyally, Derry, were ‘devastated’ to witness their ‘wee boy’ Jamie’s heart fail battling meningitis and septicaemia.

Doctors said he could not fight anymore and the next time it stopped, the family should let him go.

Emma, 34, said: “We watched Jamie’s heart monitor slow. Nurses lifted him into our arms and his daddy and I held him tight. We told him ‘be brave’ and kissed his tiny head before Jamie’s heart stopped again.”

Since, the family ‘find strength’ and ‘feel his name lives on’ by supporting Meningitis Now, the UK’s largest meningitis charity.

Emma’s friend Danielle Ross, 29, of Waterside, Derry, is organising Jamie’s Night for Meningitis Now – a pole dancing and disco at Gransha Social Club, Derry, on Saturday, June 20.

Entertainment includes Pole Infinity taster lessons, an auction, music from DJ Andy Thompson and raffle from 7.30pm.

Entry is £6 on the door.

Emma said: “We don’t want anyone to feel the same devastating grief from losing someone to meningitis. We fundraise to ensure Jamie’s name lives on and that something positive comes from his passing. Our latest fundraiser will be a ‘pole lot of fun’, so hope everyone comes to help eradicate this awful disease. I thank Danielle for organising the event – she deserves the recognition.”

Nine-month-old Jamie awoke ‘bright as a button’, had breakfast and played. By early afternoon, he was falling asleep in Darren’s arms, which was unusual, but they put it down to a busy weekend. Jamie ‘seemed different’ when he awoke two hours later at 4pm.  

Emma said: “Jamie didn’t want to be moved and moaned when Darren lifted him. He was hot, so I called the doctor.”

They went to the doctor at 4.30pm and he seemed brighter, but Emma noticed a purple spot on the back of his neck. The doctor sent them home and said ‘ring back if he gets worse’.

At around 6pm, Jamie started vomiting and seemed thirsty, but could not keep his bottle down. His mum rang the doctor and they went to hospital, but Jamie was not admitted until 10pm.

Emma said: “Everything went so fast – our world turned upside down. Jamie had needles coming from everywhere. We could see the purple spots spreading down his chest and he was awake looking for us.”

Jamie was put on life support and an ambulance, with police escort, rushed him to a bigger hospital. His family followed in his grandfather’s car. On arrival, they were sat down and told that Jamie suffered a “massive heart attack”.

Emma said: “He was still living – he’d waited for us. We went to see Jamie – he was so small, surrounded by beeping machinery. The machines were breathing for him, we held his hand and his heart failed a few times. His wee body was completely covered by the rash.”

At 11am, doctors said there was nothing more they could do. He died at 11.10am on November 1, 2004.

Meningitis Now Northern Ireland community fundraiser Jo Wilson added: “What happened to Jamie sadly shows how fast meningitis can strike, especially a baby, whose immune system is underdeveloped.

“What Jamie’s family and friends have achieved for us in his memory is touching. We wish Emma and Danielle the best for the evening and hope everyone gets in a spin to wipe out the horrific disease.”

Danielle, with Emma’s younger sister Louise Moore and friend Carol-Ann Williamson, all of Waterside, marked the 10th anniversary of Jamie’s passing by raising £800 for Sober October last year.

Read Jamie's story here