Tot's ordeal inspires campaign
AN Alloa mum hopes to raise awareness of meningitis after her daughter bravely battled the virus last year.
Sharon Hutchinson (37) has become a Meningitis Trust volunteer and is looking for like-minded Clackmannanshire residents to join her crusade to educate parents around the county on the infection.
Sharon told the Advertiser, "It's important that funds are raised and that parents know what they are looking for. Sometimes a rash isn't always present and by the time meningitis is diagnosed it can be too late."
Meningitis is inflammation of the protective membranes covering the brain and the spiral cord. Along with death, it can lead to serious long-term consequences such as deafness, epilepsy and cognitive deficits if not treated quickly.
Common symptoms include headache, neck stiffness associated with fever, confusion and vomiting. Most people assume a rash will show, however that is not always the case.
Sharon's daughter Lucy (2) was a sick baby and suffered a punctured lung before she turned one. When she fell ill last year it was assumed she had contracted a viral infection.
Meningitis wasn't instantly detected due to the lack of a rash and because she'd had her vaccination. By the time it was discovered the tot had to fight to stay alive.
Lucy spent 42 days in the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Edinburgh, 30 of which were in a coma.
Septicaemia set in and her hands and feet turned black. Doctors had to amputate her toes, half of her right foot, parts of her shin and fingers down to her knuckle.
The little trooper was actually given her last rites on the day she was meant to be celebrating her first birthday.
Sharon, who grew up in Alloa and attended St Mungo's Primary School and St Modan's High School, never gave up hope.
She said, "We were always convinced she would survive."
Lucy now attends nursery and goes to a toddler group. She can use her hands without any difficulty and walks with the aid of splints to help her balance.
Sharon added, "Lucy suffers from dwarfism, so she's smaller than an average two-year-old and is partially deaf. This is going to be an ongoing issue. She'll have to continually see surgeons and may need more surgery with her bone growth.
"We're also not sure about the after-effects of the meningitis. This is something we're going to have to make allowances for."
During what was a difficult time for Sharon and her family, Meningitis Trust were on hand to offer emotional and financial support.
Sharon has now joined the charity as a proactive way to give something back. As a volunteer coordinator she will help raise awareness and funds, share her story, provide support to others in a similar situation, and organise events.
She has already left information cards in Alloa Library and her doctor's surgery - and is looking for local businesses to keep a collection tin in their shops for fundraising.
Sharon added, "If anyone is willing to give up one hour per week to distribute leaflets, give a talk at a baby group or help to organise an event, please get in touch."
For more information on Meningitis Trust, go to www.meningitis-trust.org. To join Sharon's team or offer your services in any way, call 07838678574.
This article appeared in Alloa & Hillfoots Advertiser 25 Jul 12
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