Stevenage man helps save life of six-year-old girl with meningitis

The quick thinking of meningitis survivor Ian Alexander pictured here at The Twilight Marathon in J

The quick thinking of meningitis survivor Ian Alexander pictured here at The Twilight Marathon in July 2017 which he ran for the Meningitis Research Foundation may have saved the life of a six-year-old girl with the potentially fatal infection. Picture: Courtesy of the Meningitis Research Foundation - Credit: Archant

The quick-thinking actions of a man have helped save the life of his friend’s six-year-old daughter, after he recognised she had the onset of meningitis.

Ian Alexander, who lives in Stevenage and is an ambassador for the Meningitis Research Foundation, said: “I spoke to my friend on the phone, as she had just been to see a doctor with her daughter.

“She said her daughter was covering her eyes as it hurt when she looked at light. She was also burning up, vomiting and had a headache.

“Luckily, I know the symptoms of meningitis very well. I told her to go back to the doctor and suggest meningitis and mention her daughter’s aversion to light.

“She said she would monitor her overnight and, if she deteriorated, would ring the surgery in the morning, but I convinced her to go back straightaway.

“She called me later that day to say her GP had confirmed it could be meningitis and her daughter had been blue-lighted to hospital in an ambulance. Further tests were done and bacterial meningitis was confirmed.”

Meningitis is an infection of the protective membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord. It can lead to permanent damage to the brain or nerves, and even death.

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Ian, who is a keen runner and a member of Stevenage’s Fairlands Valley Spartans, said: “The doctors have said the meningitis was caught early and treatment has gone extremely well, so they are very positive about a full recovery for her.

“They did say, if it wasn’t for me, there could have been a very different outcome, but I was just doing my job as an ambassador.”

The 56-year-old had bacterial meningitis himself as a child and became an ambassador for the MRF in 2016 to help raise awareness of the deadly disease.

Rob Dawson from the foundation said: “We’re proud of Ian. We’re so pleased he followed his gut instincts to give such good advice, and that the little girl is recovering well.

“Meningitis and septicaemia are deadly diseases that can strike without warning, and rapid diagnosis and treatment offer the best chance of survival.

“Unfortunately, the symptoms can resemble less serious childhood illnesses and many children are sent home after their first visit to the GP. It’s so important for parents to trust their instincts and go back to get urgent medical help if a child’s symptoms progress.”

For the symptoms of meningitis and septicaemia, as well as more information about the charity, visit