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Courage of meningitis tragedy mum in record-breaking pram push for charity

A DUBLIN woman who lost her six-week-old baby to meningitis is joining 500 other mums in an attempt to break the world record for pushing prams.

Rosemarie O'Leary, from Terenure, and her husband Darach were devastated when their firstborn baby Jessica died a week after suddenly falling ill three years ago.

"Unfortunately we lost our six-week-old daughter Jessica in March 2007. She was our first child so it was particularly difficult," said Rosemarie.

Diagnosing meningitis is especially hard in a young baby since the symptoms can easily be mistaken for those of another illness. Jessica was not diagnosed until her third or fourth visit to hospital.

"All the tests came back clear," said Rosemarie. "The only way we had of knowing there was something wrong was that she was sleepy and she wasn't very alert, so how do you detect it when those are the symptoms?

"She had decreased her feeding and that was the signal for us. She'd missed a few feeds."

Rosemarie and Darach now have two other children Ollie and Annabel, but they still fundraise and raise awareness about meningitis.

"[When Jessica passed away] we first became aware of the Meningitis Research Foundation. They were fantastic, talking us through what happened," said Rosemarie.

"They were very involved and we were in close contact with them. We've worked with them to raise the profile for the pneumococcal vaccine. There's still one vaccine, Meningococcal B, that the foundation are working on getting through the HSE."

Around 500 mums will attempt to break the Guinness World Record for the highest number of children/babies pushed in buggies over a one mile distance on April 24.

Furze Road in the Phoenix Park will be closed off for the event and it will cost €5 to register each buggy.

A spokesperson for the Foundation said they were looking for 500 adults to bring their children along in their prams.

The present record of 306 was set in Slovakia in 2006.

People may register for the pram push on line at www.meningitis.org or by calling (01) 8196931.