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Dublin: 11°C Wednesday 20 October 2021

'He had a headache on Christmas Eve and died the next day': Wife describes husband's meningitis

“We don’t want other people to lose a family member like this and we want everyone to be aware of the disease.”

ON CHRISTMAS EVE, Alice McGlynn’s husband Mark complained of a headache before going to bed.

The next day he was brought to hospital by ambulance after he collapsed in his home.

His heart stopped and the CPR machine was turned off after he could not be resuscitated.

Two days after Mark died his family received a call from Tallaght Hospital to say his bloods had come back positive for Neisseria meningitidis, a bacteria which causes meningitis.

His wife is now sharing her experience of meningitis and septicaemia to ensure people are aware of the symptoms and know to be vigilant and act fast.

McGlynn, from Templeogue in Dublin, describes her late husband as “a really funny man, with a dark, dry wit that often went close to the edge of the acceptable”.

He was a great father and put his children before everything else in his life.

‘I knew it was the end’

Mark took paracetamol before going to bed on Christmas eve because of his headache and he had a fever of 102F.

Alice said, “The next morning his temperature spiked again at 102 so more paracetamol was given to him, and he complained of being extremely cold and was wracked with pain all over his body, especially in the back of his legs, chest and neck. Four hours later a third dose of paracetamol was given to him.”

At around 12pm Mark fell in the bathroom and took a type of seizure afterwards.

“He went sideways, legs spread out straight and back straight and stiff. His eyes gazed up to the ceiling. He did not respond when I spoke with him.

I held him in my arms and shouted to my family to call an ambulance immediately.

She said the ambulance arrived in 15 minutes and the family waited in the hospital.

Over 90 minutes later a doctor arrived and explained that Mark’s heart had stopped and the team were doing everything in their power to resuscitate him. This is when it all became surreal.

The doctor said they were unsure what had caused the arrest but that the working diagnosis was that Mark had an aortic tear.

Alice said Mark was on the CPR machine in resuscitation room when she last saw him.

They eventually asked us for the go ahead to turn off the CPR machine. I knew it was the end. Finally the machine showed the same and the line went flat. My beautiful husband was gone.

“We are broken hearted and devastated. Our reality has altered. I miss him every minute of the day.

“We don’t want other people to lose a family member like this and we want everyone to be aware of the disease.”

057 Mark

Monika Marchlewicz, Ireland Manager at Meningitis Research Foundation (MRF) said: “Meningitis and septicaemia can kill in a matter of hours. Although babies, young children and teenagers are at most risk, anyone can be affected at any time.

“Vaccines are the only way to help prevent meningitis and septicaemia, and we encourage everyone to take up the offer of the vaccines included in the immunisation schedule. However there are not yet vaccines available to prevent all types of meningitis and septicaemia, so knowing the symptoms is also really important.”

Symptoms information, research and case studies can be found at meningitis.org.

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