A mother-of-six has released harrowing photographs of her teenage son ‘at death’s door’ to highlight the devestating effects of meningitis.
Ben Taylor, 18, was fighting for his life just days after he complained of a sore throat – unaware he had actually contracted bacterial meningitis.
Mr Taylor, from the Isle of Wight, is still in a critical condition after being rushed to St Mary’s Hospital on Saturday evening.
His mother, Rikki, 37, has released images of him in hospital to show other families just how quickly the illness can take hold of a healthy person.
She is now desperately trying to raise awareness of the dangers of meningitis while her son fights for his life.
Ben Taylor, 18, was fighting for his life just days after he complained of a sore throat – but he actually contracted bacterial meningitis
Ms Taylor said: ‘Ben deteriorated so quickly – initially he was complaining that he had a sore throat, and then three days later he’s fighting for his life with meningitis.
‘I called for an ambulance on Saturday night because Ben was unresponsive, and then hours later he was put into an induced coma.
‘I decided to take these photographs to show people that meningitis isn’t always just a rash, and doesn’t just occur in young children.
‘He looked dead in these photos, he was in a coma, he was grey and he was hooked up to so many wires that were just keeping him alive.
‘I had to share them because it’s the reality behind meningitis.’
She added: ‘If these photographs can encourage people to understand the signs and symptoms of the illness it’s worth it.’
Mr Taylor, from the Isle of Wight, is still in a critical condition after being rushed to hospital on Saturday evening
His mother, Rikki, 37, has released images of him in hospital to show other families just how quickly the illness can take hold of a healthy person (pictured before)
Bacterial meningitis is much more dangerous – it can kill within four hours – and is triggered by meningococcal, pneumococcal and Group B streptococcal bacteria.
One in ten will die and three in ten will be left with significant, life-changing disabilities.
Every year around 3,200 people in Britain get bacterial meningitis – the viral form is more common, but the true number of cases is difficult to estimate because the symptoms are often comparatively mild and so are mistaken for flu.
When did he become ill?
Mr Taylor initially complained of feeling ill on Wednesday, March 14, when he told his mother he had a sore throat and suspected he may have tonsillitis.
But just days later he became unresponsive in his bed and was rushed to hospital in an ambulance and diagnosed with meningitis.
Ms Taylor said: ‘On Wednesday evening he complained that his throat was hurting, so we booked a doctor’s appointment for the next morning.
‘At the appointment we were told he was fine, so we went back home and he got a lot of rest, vitamins and fluids.
‘But then he started deteriorating and by Saturday night he was in the hospital being hooked up to life support.
‘Initially, because he went to the pub the night before, I thought maybe his drink was spiked – but hearing it was meningitis was even more of a shock to me.’
His mother is now desperately trying to raise awareness of the dangers of meningitis while her son fights for his life
Ms Taylor said: ‘Ben deteriorated so quickly – initially he was complaining that he had a sore throat, and then three days later he’s fighting for his life with meningitis
She added: ‘I always thought that having meningitis meant you have a rash, but Ben has proved that wrong.
‘On the run up to being hospitalised Ben was vomiting, constantly tired, had a sore throat and felt cold a lot.
‘I want as many people as possible to know the symptoms of meningitis, and that it’s not just a rash, so that this doesn’t happen to anyone else’s son.’
Fighting for his life
Mr Taylor still remains in hospital fighting for his life and it is unclear whether, if he survives, there will be any long-term damage.
Ms Taylor has set up a fundraising page to raise money for him, so that he has something to look forward to once he leaves hospital.
To donate, visit here.
Mr Taylor initially complained of feeling ill on Wednesday, March 14, when he told his mother he had a sore throat and suspected he may have tonsillitis
Mr Taylor still remains in hospital fighting for his life and it is unclear whether, if he survives, there will be any long-term damage. Ms Taylor has set up a fundraising page
WHAT IS MENINGITIS?
Meningitis is inflammation of the membranes that surround and protect the brain and spinal cord.
Anyone can be affected but at-risk people include those aged under five, 15-to-24 and over 45.
People exposed to passive smoking or with suppressed immune systems, such as patients undergoing chemotherapy, are also more at risk.
The most common forms of meningitis are bacterial and viral.
Symptoms for both include:
- Pale, blotchy skin with a rash that does not fade when compressed with a glass
- Stiff neck
- Dislike of bright lights
- Fever, and cold hands and feet
- Severe headache
Headache is one of the main symptoms
Bacterial meningitis requires urgent treatment at hospital with antibiotics.
Some 10 per cent of bacterial cases are fatal.
Of those who survive, one in three suffer complications, including brain damage and hearing loss.
Limb amputation is a potential side effect if septicaemia (blood poisoning) occurs.
Vaccines are available against certain strains of bacteria that cause meningitis, such as tuberculosis.
Viral is rarely life-threatening but can cause long-lasting effects, such as headaches, fatigue and memory problems.
Thousands of people suffer from viral meningitis every year in the UK.
Treatment focuses on hydration, painkillers and rest.
Although ineffective, antibiotics may be given when patients arrive at hospital just in case they are suffering from the bacterial form of the disease.
Source: Meningitis Now