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In the beginning...

Eileen McKiernan founded Meninigitis Scotland in 1991

It was in October 1990 that Eileen McKiernan' s life was turned upside down. Her son Lee, then almost 18 years old had been accompanying his grandmother to a local hospice when he took ill and had to return home. A doctor was called and gastro-enteritis diagnosed. By morning his condition had worsened, he was purple, hallucinating and sweating profusely. The emergency doctor sent him by ambulance to Glasgow's Ruchill Hospital but sadly Lee passed away en-route.

Meningitis can be hard to diagnose until it is too late as was the case with Lee, a fit and healthy young man who had never been ill in his life. Eileen and her family were left with a void that they struggled to come to terms with...

"I was left in a state of complete and utter shock. I felt that if someone had pinched me then I would wake up. Not so, it was all dreadfully real and I had to face up to the reality that my beloved son was no more. The house was suddenly silent and all I was left with were treasured memories."

Prior to Lee's passing meningitis was a word that Eileen had only come across on television and in newspapers, now it had a new reality and with that reality came questions...

"The dreadful thing was no one gave us any real information; we were left completely in the dark and just had to pick up the pieces of our lives and get on with It".

"I had so many questions; why Lee, how can you contract meningitis and could we have helped prevent it?".

"The only telephone number I could get hold of was the National Meningitis Trust in Stroud, England, When I asked for my nearest Scottish office they told me that there wasn't one! In the event the nearest thing I could find was a support group in Saltcoats, Ayrshire".

"I felt that more had to be done for suffers and their families in this country and started a small support group in Glasgow which met for the first time in March 1991. We decided in due course to attain charity status, as we had been made aware by then of several doctors and physicians working right here in Scotland who desperately required funding. The Meningitis Association of Scotland was born making us the first registered charity for meningitis in Scotland."

Today MAS supports families who have had a family member affected by the disease, the bereaved and survivors for whom there is very little help and support.

"Research into meningitis is extremely time consuming and requires substantial funding. Everyone wants answers; few are willing to fund the work necessary to find them. We in MAS cannot bring back our loved ones but we are determined to help save other families from the anguish and agonies we have had to contend with. Progress is being made daily at a variety of laboratories within Scotland where good people are working around the clock seeking answers. They deserve every support and that's what we do, help and support them as much as we possibly can.

"We will continue our efforts to make sure that the shadow of meningitis is removed from Scotland completely."

Meningitis Association Scotland - Founder members with Eileen McKiernan (centre)
Please be aware of the signs of meningitis, who knows the next life we help to save may just be yours.

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