I WON’T GIVE UP: LIFE AFTER MENINGOCOCCAL DISEASE
“If anything positive comes from this experience, it’s that I can help spread awareness and encourage parents to advocate for their child.” - Amy, Daniel's Mum
ABOUT MENINGOCOCCAL DISEASE
Meningococcal disease is a rare, but potentially devastating bacterial infection of the blood and/or membranes that line the spinal cord and brain. The illness can strike at any age, but children up to four years old and adolescents aged between 15 and 19 years old are at higher risk.1 Different strains cause invasive meningococcal disease and most Australians at risk are not fully protected.
Meningococcal disease can progress rapidly and be difficult to diagnose. The early symptoms such as fever and headache can easily be mistaken for a common cold. The distinctive meningococcal rash is an advanced symptom, which may or may not occur during infection. While most survive, if it is not diagnosed and treated quickly, meningococcal disease can lead to death or serious consequences within 24 hours.
Up to one in ten of those infected may die2,3 and around one in five may suffer serious long-term disabilities including brain damage, deafness or loss of limbs2
Five-year-old Perth schoolboy, Daniel is part of a new national portrait series, I Won’t Give Up, which celebrates the strength and resilience of Australians who have been impacted by meningococcal disease.
In 2018, Daniel was vomiting and feeling lethargic one evening. The next morning, a rash appeared on his hands and arms. His mum, Amy, took him to their local doctor, who on seeing the rash and his lethargy, told her to rush Daniel to hospital. In the time it took to drive there, the rash had moved up his arms and onto his face. He was administered antibiotics to treat meningococcal disease immediately.
Today, Daniel is one of seven Australians photographed by world renowned, Australian-born photographer, Anne Geddes. The portrait series celebrates life after meningococcal disease and is a tribute to their courage and hope for the future.
DANIEL'S STORY OF SURVIVAL
In Daniel’s case, due to the quick thinking of his mum and their local doctor, as well as receiving immediate treatment at a nearby hospital, the five-year-old was spared from the more serious consequences of the disease. “I knew something was terribly wrong. It was a frightening time for us. It all happened so fast but if they hadn’t acted so quickly, I believe he might not be with us today or he could be living with lifelong disabilities. We were very lucky the doctor took immediate action,” Amy said.
Amy said Daniel’s experience has inspired other parents to become more mindful of the disease. “It’s something that I talk to a lot of parents about and they’re always interested in learning more. If anything positive comes from this experience, it’s that I can help spread awareness and encourage parents to advocate for their child.”
GREATER AWARENESS AND UNDERSTANDING
Anne Geddes, known for her iconic images of children, became a global ambassador for meningococcal disease after witnessing a devastating outbreak in New Zealand while living there with her young family. She recently spent time in Australia photographing seven Australians whose lives have been forever changed by meningococcal disease.
“Daniel’s a really sweet little boy. I hope this portrait is a reminder of how brave and strong he is, to have lived through this potentially devastating disease. Fortunately, most meningococcal disease survivors will not suffer long term physical consequences, but it’s still a horrifying experience for any family to endure and something Daniel and his family will remember for the rest of their lives.
“We need greater awareness of meningococcal disease and prevention options. Hopefully if Australians have a better understanding, no one will experience the loss of a loved one or the lifelong impact of the disease. Out of tragedy or by overcoming adversity, the individuals portrayed in I Won’t Give Up have created something beautiful,” Anne said.
In sharing Daniel’s story, Amy wants Australians to be more aware about meningococcal disease and go talk to their doctor for more information about the disease and how to help protect their family.