“Incredibly lucky”: The boy who has survived the most serious form of meningitis a staggering FOUR times
This is the boy who has astounded doctors – by surviving the deadly brain bug meningitis FOUR times.
Brave student George Lane has twice pulled through the most serious form of the disease – pneumococcal meningitis – and has also suffered meningococcal meningitis twice.
Most remarkably he has come through unaffected by brain damage or limb loss each time – which are all dangerous potential consequences of the bug.
George Lane shortly before he contracted meningitis for the first time aged six
Experts say they have never seen someone so young survive the most deadly forms of the disease so many times before in the UK.
Now his relieved mother Joy, 51, wants to warn other students of the dangers of the deadly bug.
Mrs Lane, an NHS project worker, said: “It is this time of year when many students go off to start university, and they must be aware about meningitis.
“My son was incredibly lucky to have survived it four times, but I want other children and young people to be aware of the signs and symptoms to look out for.”
George contracted pneumococcal meningitis for the first time in December 1999 at the age of six, after suffering with severe headaches and sickness.
Mrs Lane, who lives with husband Colin, 48, an engineering technician, and their daughter Katie, 23, in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, said: “George had started with a headache but it didn”t get any better with painkillers.
“Then he started vomiting and had a high fever too. We never imagined it would be anything as serious as meningitis.
“But we took him to hospital straight away – within ten hours of him first showing any signs of illness.”
Relieved: George, who has survived meningitis four times, with his NHS project manager mother Joy, 51
Because the couple had acted so quickly, it meant that although George had contracted the most serious form of the disease, the doctors were able to give him antibiotics in time to save his life.
Six months later George fell ill again and even though his parents thought it couldn”t possibly be meningitis again, they took him to hospital as he was suffering from similar symptoms.
Unbelievably, doctors diagnosed him with meningococcal meningitis – a different type than before. He was transferred to the intensive care unit at Leeds General Infirmary.
Mrs Lane said: “We never thought it possible that it could happen again, especially to have a completely different form of meningitis. As a parent, to have a child in that situation, was just devastating. We just had to hope that he would pull through and put our trust in the medical staff.”
“As a parent, to have a child in that situation, was just devastating. We just had to hope that he would pull through and put our trust in the medical staff.”
Fortunately George responded to treatment and he managed to pull through and was allowed home from hospital.
The family thought they had put the meningitis nightmare behind them, but then a year later, when George was seven, he started complaining of a headache.
Mrs Lane said: “Even though I could have never imagined it was meningitis for the third time, he told me it was a headache like he”d had before, so I didn”t even question it. I rushed him straight down to hospital.”
Because of his past medical history, doctors at Dewsbury District Hospital gave him immediately antibiotic treatment before the test results had even come through. Again, it was the swift action that ended up saving his life.
Mrs Lane said: “They couldn”t believe he”d had it for a third time, but it was their quick response that saved George and we are so grateful for that.”
George then reached his teens and in August this year, he contracted meningitis again for the fourth time – this time it was pneumococcal meningitis – the most serious form of the disease.
Mrs Lane said: “George had gone to bed early as he had a headache and then started to shiver. He thought he was coming down with something. When he started tovomit we had thought it was food poisoning. But early the following morning his fever got worse and when he became delirious my husband and Ihad a gut instinct to call an ambulance.
Leeds General Infirmary, where George was taken into intensive care
“We are so glad we did as they gave him the first shot of antibiotics whilst he was in the ambulance on the way to hospital.
“We were really worried because it was the most serious form. He”d had that one the very first time and managed to pull through, so we just had to hope he would be as lucky this time around.”
Again, with swift treatment, George has survived, much to the amazement of doctors and medical experts.
He has also managed to avoid any complications that are associated with the bug, such as brain damage, hearing and sight loss, although after the fourth time it took 48 hours before he fully regained his speech and sight.
Mrs Lane said: “He has been so lucky not to have been left with any serious side effects, after having meningitis so many times.
“We were really worried because it was the most serious form. He”d had that one the very first time and managedto pull through, so we just had to hope he would be as lucky this time around.”
“George is going to university next year so along with the current vaccinations available he will be given a course of antibiotics as a precaution at the start of each autumn term as those are the risky times.
“I do worry about him getting it again but George has got to live his life and I”m not going to wrap him in cotton wool.
“He will wear an SOS bracelet whenever he is away from home and he is having a buddy system with him at university so that he always has a friend to watch over him and check him if he”s not feeling well.
“I would urge other students to be especially vigilant over the signs of meningitis, as although it can strike at any age, young people between the ages of 17-24 are particularly at risk. We feel very lucky to still have George with us.”
His case has amazed experts who say that they haven”t come across a case of meningitis four times – when it has been different types of the disease each time.
A spokeswoman for Meningitis UK said: “This is a unique case and we haven”t come across anything like it before.
“To have had the different types like this so many times is extremely rare.”
The family are campaigning for Meningitis UK. For more information visit www.meningitisuk.org