A Daughter Lost to Meningococcal Disease

My daughter, Adrienne, was a loving, funny, and intelligent 16-year-old who played clarinet in her high school band. Her life was tragically cut short on January 28, 2001 from meningococcal disease, a serious, yet vaccine-preventable infection.

Adrienne went with her sister to see a movie and when she got home she complained she wasn’t feeling well and had pain in her legs. Adrienne went straight to bed to try to get some rest but woke up at 2:00 AM with a fever. I gave her acetaminophen, assuming she had the flu. The next morning, her condition seemed to be getting worse – she was running a very high fever, and was lethargic and achy–so I decided to take her to the hospital.

By the time we arrived at the hospital, Adrienne was so weak that she could barely walk. Doctors told me that she was very sick, but they didn’t know why. They decided to transport her to a hospital better equipped to handle her condition, but by time the helicopter arrived to transport her, my daughter had passed away.

Two days later I learned that Adrienne died of meningococcal disease. I had never heard of this disease and did not know about the vaccine that can potentially prevent it. Had I known, my daughter Adrienne would have been vaccinated and might be alive today. After losing Adrienne, I made sure that my other daughter, Amanda, was vaccinated against this disease.

Parents need to know that meningococcal disease exists and that it can be prevented. To help educate other families about the dangers of this disease and prevention measures, including vaccination, I joined the National Meningitis Association’s “Moms on Meningitis.” This is just one way I feel I may be able to help prevent this from happening to other families.

Thank you to Linda for sharing her story about how she lost her daughter to this vaccine-preventable disease, part of the NFID “Real Stories, Real People” series. To share your own personal story, visit http://nfid.org/real-stories-real-people/share-your-story.

Learn more about increasing US vaccination rates among adolescents at the NFID Clinical Vaccinology Course on November 15-17, 2013 in Cambridge, MA.

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