'Disease changed our lives forever' says Hitchin dad on son's meningitis

PUBLISHED: 17:01 10 November 2019

Jeff Brown, with his wife Bharathi and 10-year-old son Jothi. Picture: MRF

Jeff Brown, with his wife Bharathi and 10-year-old son Jothi. Picture: MRF

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A Hitchin author has spoken of his family's ordeal after meningitis left his son battling for life.

Jothi is now on the road to recovery. Picture: MRFJothi is now on the road to recovery. Picture: MRF

In August this year, Jeff Brown published 'An Ordinary Man's Travels in an Extraordinary World' - a travelogue and memoir journaling his son Jothi's recovery from life-altering meningitis and sepsis.

In 2010, 18 month-old Jothi became very ill with flu-like symptoms, leaving a bereft Jeff and his wife Bharathi on a long search for a diagnosis.

"Each time we were told that it was likely to be a virus and to bring him back if he isn't better in a few days," Jeff said.

"Eventually we took Jothi to A&E with a very high temperature, cold feet and hands, really fast heart beat and a high-pitched cry - but we were sent home again.

Jothi had two major surgeries that involved breaking both legs and placing them in a metal frames. Picture: MRFJothi had two major surgeries that involved breaking both legs and placing them in a metal frames. Picture: MRF

"Not knowing what to do, we returned to the hospital in the middle of the night. The doctors took one look at Jothi - and all hell broke loose.

"There were lots of people around him and they asked us to move out of the way so he could be treated."

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Jothi was rapidly transferred to Evelina Children's hospital in London, now revealed to be suffering from a life-threatening pneumococcal meningitis - with multi-organ failure and severe sepsis."

Despite making a remarkable recovery, Jothi's meningitis journey was only just beginning.

"Five years later, we noticed he was limping and his legs were bending a little," Jeff said.

"It turned out that the meningitis and sepsis had damaged the growth plates in his knees and ankles that help the legs grow."

Jothi had two major surgeries that involved breaking both legs and placing them in a metal frame to straighten and lengthen them.

Jothi - now aged 10 - will undergo these operations every two to three years until his legs stops growing.

Jeff and Bharathi are committed to raising awareness of the symptoms of meningitis which can so often go undiagnosed.

"Meningitis is a life changer and life-finisher," Jeff said. "It moves quickly and can be difficult to detect with a devastating impact. The disease has changed our lives forever."

In the UK, one in ten people affected with meningitis and septicaemia will die of the disease - and a third of survivors will be left with life-changing symptoms. Jeff is donating 80 per cent of his book royalties to the Meningitis Research Foundation.

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