‘No other family should have to suffer’

Terri Devine, who died after contracting meningitis.
Terri Devine, who died after contracting meningitis.

The heartbroken mother a Strabane teenager who died after she contracted Meningitis B has welcomed the backing of Foyle MP Mark Durkan for a campaign to have a vaccine against the disease licensed for use on the NHS.

Marie Devine’s daughter Terri had just celebrated her 16th birthday when she took ill, days before Christmas in 2008. The teenager, who Marie described as “full of life and joy”, died just days after first complaining of flu like symptoms.

Although more than five years have passed since she lost her daughter, Marie said she is still struggling to come to terms with the loss. Terri would have celebrated her 21st birthday on December 13.

“This was the toughest Christmas I have put in - thinking of her and that she would have been 21.

“I’ve been wondering how she would have turned out and the same time trying to come to terms with the fact she is gone.”

Marie and her family campaigned last year for the drug Bexsero, which can prevent Meningitis B from developing, to be introduced as part of the NHS vaccination programme for children.

However the bid was rejected.

“It was rejected on the basis of cost. It costs £350 to vaccinate a child. It may sound like a lot of money - but what price a child’s life?

“I feel heart sorry now for parents going through this - who are losing children to meningitis, knowing that a vaccine exists and is just sitting there on the shelves. It is a crying shame.”

Marie said she, and her family struggled last year when their ‘Time for Terri’ campaign did not result in the vaccine being made widely available.

“We are of course still grieving for our daughter - and we wanted to do everything we could to ensure no family would have to go through the heartache that we went through again.”

This week Foyle MP Mark Durkan tabled a parliamentary motion at Westminster this week reiterating his call on the Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, to take all appropriate steps towards introducing Bexsero, which he believes would save thousands of children’s lives.

Mr Durkan said: “Meningitis B remains the leading cause of bacterial meningitis affecting children under five. It is difficult to diagnose, strikes fast and kills or seriously disables in hours.

“I am therefore encouraging the Health Secretary to take all appropriate steps towards introducing this new vaccine.”