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Local Girl Battles Deadly Disease

In May, we introduced you to Allison Shaw, a North Little Rock high school student who contracted Meningitis. Doctors told her she wouldn't live, but Allison beat the odds and is now heading off to college with a message.
In May, we introduced you to Allison Shaw, a North Little Rock high school student who contracted Meningitis.  Doctors told her she wouldn't live, but Allison beat the odds and is now heading off to college.  She plans to use the time not only to achieve her dream of becoming an actress, but to spread the word about the importance of getting vaccinated for Meningitis.

Dancing on stage at the Repertory Theater, Allison Shaw has come along way in a short period of time.  "I just went out there and did it.  It was so surreal it was like I can't believe I got this far.  It was like a fairy tale," says Allison.
 
It was a fairy tale that almost didn't happen.  On March 28th, 18-year-old Allison was diagnosed with Meningitis, an inflammation of the brain and spinal cord, while visiting friends in Baton Rouge.  Doctors told her mom, Bliss Jones, that Allison wouldn't make it and even if she did there would be some major lifelong side affects.

"I thought we'd have months and months of hospitalization and rehabilitation.  She might not get back to herself but she's just made an amazing recovery," says Bliss. 
 
As Allison packs up for her first semester at Hendrix College, the pain she had in her feet is no longer a problem.  Although she still has poor vision in one eye, while getting a sneak peak of her dorm room she sees her future clearly.

“It's okay I beat incredible odds, I have a purpose here.  I’m meant to do something with my life and I’m not taking that lightly, I’m going to live my life to the fullest and take chances and do what I have to do," says Allison/

One thing she feels she has to do is get the word out to people about the importance of getting the Meningitis vaccine.

"This was a rare occurrence that I’m actually sitting here because I was supposed to die but the fact that I am here is enough," says Allison.

Walking through this door is the start of dreams come true for many freshmen, but it could turn to a nightmare.  Dormitories are breeding grounds for Meningitis.  Freshmen who live in dormitories are six times more likely to get the disease than the average person.  That's because of the close living quarters.  The bacteria are spread person to person through the air, by direct contact with an infected person, and from sharing items like drinking glasses.  It spreads quickly and within hours of the first symptoms can cause brain damage, organ failure, amputation of limbs and death.  As Allison unpacks, her story has already moved her new roommate Claira to get vaccinated.

"It really makes you think twice because you don't think I have to get this shot.  It's really a big deal, it's really made me think twice," says Claira Markowski. 

So as Allison soaks in the beauty of Hendrix and takes advantage of all that college has to offer, she hopes to give a little something back. 

“Its just a miracle and miracles happen.  Just not that often so I want people to get vaccinated," says Allison

There are nearly 3,000 cases of Meningitis every year in the U.S.  According to the Centers for Disease Control, about 300 of the cases are fatal.  Among those who survive, approximately 20 percent suffer long-term consequences.  Symptoms of meningitis often resemble the flu.  Anyone who notices these symptoms, especially if they are unusually sudden or severe, should see a doctor immediately.
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