Mum urges people to get new vaccine against killer bug

Meningitis survivor Danielle Sharpe with mum Kerrie from Pontefract.
Meningitis survivor Danielle Sharpe with mum Kerrie from Pontefract.

More than 4,000 children a year contract meningitis. One in 10 will die and of those who survive, a third will be left with life altering after-effects as severe as deafness, brain damage and loss of limbs.

Danielle Sharpe is one such person.

Meningitis survivor Danielle Sharpe with mum Kerrie.

Meningitis survivor Danielle Sharpe with mum Kerrie.

Now aged 13, Danielle contracted meningococcal septicaemia in 2005 when she was just two-and half-years-old.

Since then her mum Kerrie has been campaigning for better awareness of the long term effects suffered by many survivors and for increased vaccination against the killer bug.

Kerrie, from Pontefract, said: “It started like any other toddler bug. Danielle was sick and had a temperature and was sleepy, so I left her to sleep.

“Then I hear her shout ‘Mummy!’ I rushed upstairs and she was standing her cot and there was a rash all over her face.

“I knew then exactly what it was and called 999. Although it was distressing it made me realise what was wrong with her.

“A first responder paramedic was here in minutes, he did the tumbler test and said he was taking her straight to Pontefract General A&E. They saved her life there.”

Danielle was pumped full of antibiotics but Kerrie and her then husband and mum and dad were told that the next 48 would be crucial and they could lose Danielle.

Danielle spent ten days in intensive care. It was during this time that Kerrie saw her little girl’s limbs start to turn black from septicaemia.

She said: “It was a waiting game to see how much damage the septicaemia had done to her body.

“The day they amputated her right foot, all her toes on the left foot, right index finger and the tip of the little finger on her right hand was the most emotionally destroying day in our lives.

“I will rage against what this disease did to her for the rest of my life but we still have our girl, and despite her having to undergo further surgery this year we must be eternally grateful. Some families are not so lucky.”

Danielle has had to learn to use a prosthetic foot but she still has to have another operation as soon as the bone in her stump on her right leg has grown.

Kerrie is urging people to take up new free meningitis vaccines for babies, teenagers and first time university students.

She said: “I do believe if this had been available for Danielle she would never have got the disease.”