A Wexford family are marking the heartbreaking 10th anniversary of losing their baby son to meningitis by raising public awareness and funds for research into the killer disease as World Meningitis Day approaches on October 5.
Ruairí Smart was born strong and healthy at Wexford General Hospital on May 1 2012 and his parents Mags and Rob and four-year old brother Micheál could not have been more thrilled.
But six months later, Mags and Rob faced the hardest decision of their lives when they had to turn off Ruari’s ventilator in Temple Street Children’s Hospital after he contracted pneumococcal meningitis.
"In a few hours Ruairí had gone from being out of sorts at his creche to losing his life because of meningitis. The shock was immense”, said Mags, a director of Specsavers in Wexford.
“The ICU staff held our hand every step of the way and told us that Ruairí would continue to be kept alive until we were ready to let him go. A social worker and chaplain also came to see us and we talked through how to tell Micheál that his little brother was going to die and how to break the news to family and friends.”
Mags has worked tirelessly ever since to raise funds for Meningitis Research Foundation (MRF), sharing her story so that anyone else who has had a similar experience knows they are not alone.
She is running a cake sale in Specsavers on Wexford’s Main Street from Wednesday October 5 to Friday October 7 with all the money raised going towards the work carried out by MRF in the prevention of meningitis and septicaemia in the hope of improving survival rates and outcomes.
“It’s 10 years this November since we lost Ruairí so this World Meningitis Day really means a lot to me and my family. It’s time to defeat this terrible disease once and for all and everyone can play their part. We would encourage people from the local community to pop in and donate to this worthy cause.”
Globally, bacterial meningitis kills one in 10 people who contract it and causes life-long disability for one in five survivors. Symptoms can be confused with other illnesses, like COVID or flu, and it can kill within hours.
To mark World Meningitis Day, public awareness events are being held internationally in support of the World Health Organisation’s Global Road Map to Defeat Meningitis by 2030, which could save over 200,000 lives every years and significantly reduce disabilities caused by meningitis.
For information on how to get involved in World Meningitis Day, joining the day of action, visit: worldmeningitisday.org.