My daughter Kira was 18 months old when she passed away from meningitis in 2000. We were booked to leave for Maui the next day when she began to look ill. We took her to the paediatrician who thought she had the flu. We were told that it could be a urinary tract infection though, and that perhaps we may want to get this checked at the Children’s Hospital if we were concerned. As we were leaving soon we did take her into the hospital and after several hours this was ruled out. There were so many kids there with the flu and the doctors assured us that there was no reason to not go on our trip and that they did not suspect anything other than the flu. As there was a meningitis outbreak at that time we did ask about this, but as she did not have any of the usual symptoms they did not feel that this was a concern.
On our flight to Maui a few hours after leaving the hospital Kira was very lethargic, but we had been told to expect this so it wasn’t a worry. Once we got there though, I was worried about her being dehydrated and I could tell that she still had a fever. When she vomited what looked like coffee grounds I knew we needed to find a hospital. Her fever was high but the doctors decided that if she could take some sips of fluid we could go back to the hotel. I could not shake a feeling that we should do more so when they asked if IV fluids would reassure me I agreed. I sat and talked to the doctor while this happened and we could see that she was getting more responsive.
They asked if we were okay to be discharged and I still felt apprehensive. They agreed to admit her for the rest of the night and when the stretcher arrived everything changed. Her lips were turning blue and I knew there was something more happening. They began to examine her but there were no other visible symptoms of anything. When we again inquired about meningitis they thought it would be a good idea to do a spinal tap, despite her having not rash. After this everything quickly escalated.They were going to use a helicopter to take her to Oahu after her spinal tap was positive but there was no time. The medications and all efforts were too late and her heart stopped within hours of our arrival at the hospital. We had lost our baby girl. We held her in disbelief and our lives were forever changed.
After Kira passed away we began to educate ourselves and told our story publicly to help ensure that Alberta added another type of meningitis vaccine for all children. This was accomplished and we had 2 more children who benefitted from this. My peace of mind in knowing that so many more types of meningitis are now protected against was immense. Sadly, my husband and other daughter passed away later in a motor vehicle accident however I continue to update myself in the area of meningitis vaccines and have ensured that my son is as protected as he can be against this disease. I still miss my Kira every single day and my son knows that his sisters and dad are still a part of our family even though they are no longer here with us. I can only hope that there will be a day when no family ever has to lose a loved one to this disease again.