Neonatal meningitis: Demi and Rhiannon

Rhiannon Etherington’s daughter Demi was only a few weeks old when she contracted neonatal meningitis. Here, the mum-of-three from Pembrokshire explains how Demi, now three, has been affected as a result of damage to the brain from the virus. 

Published: July 2015. Date of brain injury: 2012 (baby - a few weeks old).


It was 2012 and Demi had been suffering from a high temperature for two days. Both days I took her to the doctor but they insisted it was a viral bug. I eventually took Demi to A&E. She was put on a children's ward and then stopped breathing and went to special care.

Frustration and relief

She was put on continuous positive airway pressure and oxygen and was put in an incubator for three days. When she was diagnosed with neonatal bacterial meningitis I was frustrated and angry that I hadn’t been listened to from the start. But relief was the overlying emotion; relief that she was still here and fighting on. Despite pulling through, Demi now has hearing problems and has speech and language difficulties. I wish there had been more support in the early days for her speech and language. She is three now and is struggling. She is profoundly deaf in her right ear and her development will be assessed throughout her childhood. She is lovely but doesn't see danger and is very fast. Her speech is delayed as is her understanding. She is bright and confident and just started swimming classes. » Supporting children who have had meningitis

Lack of understanding among others

People seem to be in disbelief there is any lasting effect. They see her beautiful smile and confidence and assume she is fine. She has bouts of frustration and I feel others are too hard on her when this happens it's clear to me she is a wonderful child who just get upset more intensely than other children.

A positive future ahead

Currently she is still under assessment. She gets angry and will grab at things for no reason. She enjoys concentrated play rather than run in freely for long periods of time. Despite effects of the meningitis, I think she will love a relatively normal life. I would tell other parent s to always trust your instincts. If you think something isn’t right it probably isn’t. Find out about the meningitis vaccine here.

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