Maggie Heath-Bourne

Maggie’s Story

Maggie was six years old when she developed flu-like symptoms and pain in her arms and legs. Her parents rushed her to the closest hospital, where she was diagnosed with meningococcal meningitis. She was placed in a medically-induced coma for two weeks, was put on a ventilator and given a feeding tube. When her kidneys failed, she was brought out of the coma and moved to the renal unit. She received dialysis treatment until her kidneys fully recovered, several weeks later.

As a result of the infection, three of her toes and her left heel were amputated. Her left calf was removed to replace her heel. She was released from the hospital after six weeks, and underwent physical therapy to learn to walk again. During that time, her Achilles tendon in her left leg snapped. She had to use a wheelchair, walker and eventually a leg brace, which she wore until she was 12 years old.

She will eventually need a double ankle replacement. Maggie currently works as an editor at her university’s newspaper, and is dedicated to raising awareness about meningococcal disease and the importance of prevention. She feels very fortunate to have survived and come out of the experience relatively unscathed. Her doctors briefly talked about amputating her feet, and she knows that even that is mild compared to what the disease is capable of doing.

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