A MUM of a boy who contracted meningitis four times is raising awareness to highlight the bravery of survivors and those who have lost loved ones through the infection.

Jodie Johnson, from Leigh, gave birth to twins Lola and Luca in September 2017 three months early.

Although Lola is doing well Luca contracted meningitis four times, leaving him with lifelong and life-changing after-effects.

Leigh Journal:

Twins Luca and Lola

Jodie, 30, is backing the work of charity Meningitis Now, with today, Wednesday, being World Meningitis Day, which focuses on Life After Meningitis.

She said: “By telling our story, raising awareness of the signs and symptoms and increasing vaccine knowledge, we can raise the profile of this devastating disease.

“Meningitis can wreck lives and it’s vital that everybody understands how serious it can be for individuals and families.

“That’s why we’re supporting World Meningitis Day.”

Luca first became ill with bacterial meningitis at just 11 weeks in December 2017.

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Jodie added: “Luca has had the most horrific journey.

“When the scan came back clear we thought we were lucky, but little did we know what this horrible disease had in store for my precious little boy.”

Just a few months later Luca was ill again and put on antibiotics and then again two months later.

Leigh Journal:

Luca "has had the most horrific journey"

“This time I knew the disease nearly won”, Jodie said.

“Luca was deteriorating very fast, he was so lethargic, with a temperature of 40.

“He just looked lifeless and needed help with breathing.

“We were told to prepare for the worst.

“We noticed a change in his development.

“His hands were in fists, he wasn’t able to grasp things and he couldn’t roll or sit, all things his twin sister could do.

“He now faces long-term complications and, at the age of nearly 19 months, is still yet to sit fully unaided, stand, walk or talk – all things we’ve been told he may never do.

“Luca is a true fighter though.

“No matter what life has thrown at him he just takes everything in his stride and always with a big smile.

"He’s so determined and I know he’s destined to do great things,” Jodie added.

Leigh Journal:

Jodie and Matthew Johnson carrying their twins Lola and Luca with their other son Nova, centre

There are around 22 cases of meningitis each day in the UK.

The disease can strike in hours, but the after-effects, including deafness, limb loss and brain damage, can last a lifetime.

Those who lose a loved one to the disease have their lives changed forever.

Meningitis Now chief executive, Dr Tom Nutt, said: “We know that life after meningitis is tough for many people and we want to use World Meningitis Day to showcase the bravery of meningitis survivors and those who have lost a loved one.

“On World Meningitis Day, as on every other day, we are here to help and support those who need us.”

The charity is keen to use World Meningitis Day to promote its range of support services, including its recently-launched Rebuilding Futures Fund, which provides financial, practical and emotional support for people of all ages affected by meningitis.

“We’re not about quick fixes; we’re here to provide tailored support with long-term impact, that will really help people and families to rebuild their lives after meningitis," Tom added.

“We’re proud to provide this unique, life-changing support – the only meningitis organisation to do so in the UK.”

Other charity support activity includes its family Days – events out for families affected by meningitis – and the Believe and Achieve programme especially for young people.

Meningitis Now is also launching its first Facebook Donate online fundraiser on World Meningitis Day to help fundraise for that support and calling on the public to contribute if they’re able and make a difference for those impacted by meningitis in the future. For more information visit meningitisnow.org.

If you have been affected by meningitis or would like more information, visit meningitisnow.org or contact the Meningitis Now helpline on 0808 80 10 388 or email helpline@meningitisnow.org.