Celebrating Natalie's life

In our latest blog, Clair who works on the Brain Injury Hub shares her friend Natalie's story. Each year on 28 December a polo match is held to remember a beautiful young woman, Natalie, who lost her life to meningitis. 
polo match
I was lucky enough to be able to call Natalie a friend.  She was one of the kindest, most caring people I knew, always thinking of others before herself and her life was taken too soon. This year, I was lucky enough to spend the day at this polo match and see the love that lives on for Natalie. She would be so proud and happy to see so many people enjoying something she enjoyed so much herself and remembering her on her birthday.

Natalie’s story

Natalie was a happy healthy 20-year-old.  She was supportive, caring, loving and intelligent, she was in her second year of university and living life to the full surrounded by friends and family.  She also had a great love for horses which is how I came to know Natalie.  But tragically Natalie’s life was cut short and the world lost an amazing person. Natalie died on 24th January 2004 from meningitis B. I still remember being told by my mum, I didn’t believe her, how could someone so happy, healthy and living life to the full be taken so quickly. Natalie’s mum took her to hospital with clear signs of meningitis: severe headache, stiff neck and a rash on her legs that did not fade under pressure. But doctors said she was ‘far too well’ to have meningitis.  Just hours later she tragically died.

Making changes

Natalie’s parents campaigned to change policy at the hospital and in 2008 hospital bosses apologised for Natalie’s ‘avoidable’ death, stating:
As a result we have made a number of changes to improve our communications, our procedures and the training of our doctors and nurses."
But Natalie’s memory lives on in so many of us, and she will never be forgotten.  Raising awareness of the conditions and symptoms is crucial as well as increasing funding for research. The family set up the Natalie Naylor Trust Fund which has raised money for meningitis research and helped to push for new vaccination programmes like the meningitis B for all new-borns in the UK which has just been introduced and which will help to prevent others’ lives being cut short. Natalie’s mum also encourages people to question doctors if they think they are wrong.
Challenge the system but do it in a respectful, positive way. Accept their diagnosis but ask, what is the prognosis for me if I have got meningitis and you are wrong?'."
The polo match highlights what a truly special person Natalie was and how so many people keep her memory alive.

Know the symptoms of meningitis

So much progress has been made in recent years to reduce the number of young people who develop meningitis through vaccination programmes but it is still crucial to know the signs and symptoms of meningitis in order to catch it early and give people the best chance of recovery. Taking just two minutes to watch this short video from Meningitis Now could save a life.
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