Mon, Feb 10th, 2014

Little heroes who beat meningitis: Moving photos of children who suffered the disease released by charity to raise awareness

  • Meningitis charities launch awareness campaign using images
  • Childhood survivors of disease show the damage it has caused them
  • Photos taken by Ann Geddes, famous for images of babies in flower pots
  • Around 3,400 Britons are infected with bacterial meningitis each year

Little Amber Travers was two years old when she almost died from meningitis.

She had been intensive care for three days when doctors made the heartbreaking decision to amputate her limbs in the hope of saving her life.

Three years later – now five – she is the youngest to appear in a series of compelling photographs to raise awareness about the illness.

Five-year-old Amber Travers (right) and her sister Jade, eight, feature in the awareness campaign for Meningitis Now and the Meningitis Research Foundation. Amber caught the disease when she was just two

In fact Amber, pictured with her sister Jade, eight, from Liverpool, has just learned to walk using prosthetic limbs which were fitted last Autumn.

The pictures have been taken by Australian photographer Anne Geddes as part of a campaign being jointly run by charities including Meningitis Now and the Meningitides Research Foundation.

Around 3,400 Britons are infected with bacterial meningitis – the most serious form – each year, many of them children and teenagers.

About 1 in 10 die and up to a quarter are left with life-long complications including amputated limbs, deafness or learning disabilities.

Ellie-May Challis (left) contracted the illness when she was just 16-months old. For the campaign she was pictured with her sister Sophie by Anne Geddes, a photographer famous for her images of babies in flower pots

It is caused by an infection of the meninges cells in the brain and spinal cord which can lead to blood poisioning.

Symptoms include a severe headache, fever, vomiting, blotchy skin and usually cold hands or feet.

Viral meningitis – the other type – is far more common but less serious.

Other children appearing in the photographs are Harvey Parry, eight, who contracted the condition when he was one, and Ellie-May Challis, who was infected at just 16 months.

Anne Geddes, whose pictures will be published online on 24 April, which is World Meningitis Awareness Day said: ‘As a mother and passionate advocate of children, I want to empower parents to understand meningitis and know how best to protect their children.

‘You only need to look at Amber, Ellie and Harvey to understand the impact of this devastating disease. It really would be your worst nightmare to see any child go through such an ordeal.

Harvey Parry, eight, lost his legs and part of his right hand aged one because of meningitis

‘But at the same time, these children and their families are overcoming huge obstacles to rebuild their lives and these beautiful pictures capture their strength in the face of adversity.’

In an interview in 2011, Amber’s mother Vicky, now 27, said: ‘I never want Amber to feel different or to feel she can’t do what she likes, achieve what she wants, because of what’s happened.

‘We could have so easily lost her. The surgery she had saved her life and yes, she’s physically different now.

‘But she still has the same personality, she’s still Amber. She’s still my little girl.

‘And if telling her story can help one other child then that has to be to the good.’

read more: www.dailymail.co.uk

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