Hannah Hall’s niece Harmonie was left fighting for her life after contracting meningitis at 10 months old
Here, Hannah tells us how Harmonie’s determination to succeed, and positive spirit inspired her to take control of her own life and health; and demonstrate to her niece and children that anything is possible.
Sometimes in life the most unexpected things can happen. These can make you look at things in a different light. Where are you going? What have you got? What do you want from life? September 28th 2014 is a day that will be scarred on my brain forever. That day, at the tender age of 10 months, my niece Harmonie lost all her limbs to meningococcal septicaemia.
It shattered me; it shattered my family. In fact, there are no words to describe the emptiness it leaves in my heart. But I hope, over time, the terrible events of that day will become easier to live with.
At the time, the medical professionals recommended switching off Harmonie’s life support. This course of action, they advised, would be the best option given their prognosis for our poor princess. Never one to lie down and just let things happen, I decided to fight for her very right to live. I asked people to pray for her. Family and friends raised funds for her and, importantly, I kept myself strong for her, to help pull Harmonie and her parents through this tragedy afflicting one so young.
I watched and suffered as Harmonie endured the worst ordeal imaginable; but, at the same time, I was amazed at the strength, resilience and sheer determination of such a tiny baby. Harmonie is my very brave lioness.
Harmonie’s illness taught me many valuable life lessons; how caring and unselfish people can be, what amazing things can be achieved when people work together, how strong, supportive and loving my family members truly are, the importance of love, the strength of a prayer, the sheer generosity of strangers, and how amazing people really are.
The ‘Hope 4 Harmonie’ support from Bath and beyond never went unnoticed, touching and moving us during a time of desperation. The kindness and generosity of others really did bring us through very dark days. To this day their efforts are so very much appreciated. Most important, her illness has shown me how so very precious life is, and how suddenly it can be critically changed forever or, at worst, extinguished.
I decided once Harmonie was on a road to recovery that I would take a hold of my own lifestyle, health and fitness. I have my own beautiful children, Kairo and Benz, and want to be around for them for as long as possible. The only person who can ensure that happens is me.
I want to demonstrate to Harmonie, Kairo and Benz that in life anything is possible. There is no such word as ‘can’t’. I want them to be proud of me and I want to inspire them. If you have dreams and aspirations in life, hard work and determination can make them achievable. The sky is the limit.
When Harmonie was first poorly, we were told that she would never walk, talk, laugh, have emotions, see, read, communicate - that she would be a brain-damaged quadruple amputee with no quality of life. These predictions couldn’t be further from the truth. Harmonie does all those things and more. Harmonie leaves us incredulous on a daily basis with new skills learnt, her remarkable intelligence and a mischievous sense of humour.
Twelve months ago, I was 18st 6lb - a gigantic weight. I am now facing challenges that I never thought possible, but anything is possible. With enough determination and love around you, you can tackle what may seem impossible challenges.
My partner Harley and I will be running the 2018 Bath Half Marathon to raise funds for the charity Meningitis Now. Participation in this event, in turn, will prepare us to attempt the National Three Peaks Challenge in June 2018. However, we will only be able to take on this second challenge if we raise £650 each for Meningitis Now.
To prepare myself for the half marathon I have lost 5st 11lb so far, and I currently run or exercise five days a week.
It’s fair to say that Harmonie is probably responsible for saving my life, or giving me back many years. I imagine she has saved countless other lives with her story and the ‘Hope 4 Harmonie’ campaign. This initiative raised the national profile of the terrible suffering of children as a consequence of contracting meningitis. (The MenB vaccine was introduced to the immunisation programme for all new-borns by the government in 2015.)
Meningitis Now does wonderful things for families devastated by the effects of meningitis. The charity invests in research, provides support, campaigns, and fundraises. No child should suffer as Harmonie did. By supporting Meningitis Now, I feel I’m helping other families facing the grim reality of meningitis. I feel very passionately about spreading the word on meningitis and its potentially dreadful impact. This is my way of giving something back.
Please donate to Hanna and Harley's page, whatever you can to help protect all children in the future from this terrible disease. Your generosity will mean the world to us, and I promise to keep you updated on our progress. Thank you.