independent

Sunday 21 July 2019

Asia cuts hair for meningitis charity

Asia O’Driscoll after getting the chop
Asia O’Driscoll after getting the chop
Asia O’Driscoll before having her hair cut

Mary Fogarty

Bray woman Asia O'Driscoll had her long hair cut off before Christmas, to raise money for the Meningitis Research Foundation.

'I was terrified,' said Asia. 'I was very nervous coming up to it. But when the cutting was being done, all my friends and family were shouting and cheering me on and Adam came up with me. He thought it was a cool thing for me to do.

'I'm delighted with it now and will probably keep it like this for a while.'

When Asia's little brother Adam was two, the family nearly lost him to meningitis, 12 years ago.

'He got sick on Halloween, was taken to the GP and rushed straight to the hospital,' said Asia.

'Catching it so early is what saved his life. If it hadn't been caught in that first 24 hours he would have died. We then had to endure two of the darkest weeks my family has ever encountered.'

They didn't know if he would go blind or deaf, lose limbs, or have permanent brain damage.

'As a 12 year old, seeing your mum so distraught about the fact that her baby might die, or be permanently physically or mentally damaged, and seeing your little brother hooked up to machines, unconscious, not aware of your presence, is a feeling that will never leave you,' said Asia. 'We are extremely lucky that now that baby is a happy, healthy, handsome, wreck-the-head 14 year old that makes us all so proud to be his family.'

12 people in Ireland died from meningitis last year, and Ireland has the highest rate of invasive meningitis in Europe.

One in 10 cases are fatal while a third of survivors will suffer amputations, sight loss, brain damage or speech problems.

Money raised for the foundation will fund things such as in-depth support, research projects, phone triage in Malawi, and information packs for GP surgeries and medical professionals.

The Meningitis Research foundation is supporting the development of an effective vaccine for the prevention of meningitis, and also provides support for families and patients who are affected.

On December 20, Asia shaved her hair off at the Martello in Bray. 'My hair has always been a huge part of my identity, ever since I was a tiny kid, so shaving it off was a huge scary thing for me.'

In doing so, she has so far raised over €1,700 with the online donation page still open at gofundme.ie,

As well as the head-shave, the evening included a table quiz and raffle. 'I was blown away by the generosity of businesses in Bray and Greystones who donated so many great prizes.'

Asia is a student at NCAD in Dublin, while Adam goes to Pres in Bray.

She is looking forward to handing over a cheque from her efforts this week.

Bray People

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