Is Preventing Meningitis Not Worth the Expense?

"In those moments everything changed for all of us.” A look at the devastating personal cost of meningitis.
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Is Preventing Meningitis Not Worth the Expense?

“In those moments everything changed for all of us.” A look at the devastating personal cost of the disease.

-Mama Betty

smiling laughing baby

Memphis Lafferty was born October 17, 2005, a beautiful, healthy baby boy. Less than a year later, on May 6, 2006, the day before Mother’s Day, his parents rushed him to the Children’s Medical Center in Dallas where, to their horror, Memphis was diagnosed with bacterial meningitis. Memphis then suffered a stroke, and doctors told Christopher and Leslie Lafferty that their baby boy might not make it.

Memphis survived that night, but after a few weeks, during which he was kept in an induced coma, doctors told The Laffertys that to save his life, all four of baby Memphis’ limbs would have to be amputated.

The incredible journey from that horrifying moment to today, nearly five years later, has been documented on the Memphis Lafferty website, which it itself is a testament to not only the resilience and strength of one small family, but to the devastating consequences of meningitis. I had the opportunity to speak with Mr. and Mrs. Lafferty, and get a glimpse into the world of caring for a little boy whose biggest wish for this past Christmas was a pair of hands.

“We all have dreams when our children are born, particularly when a child is born totally healthy,” the Laffertys told me. “All of those dreams were erased when Memphis became sick and doctors fought to save his life; to do so all of his limbs had to be amputated. The emotional impact on a family is indescribable, words cannot express the anguish and heartache; in those moments everything changed for all of us.” 

But does it define them? “Having a child who is a quad amputee does not define us but it does greatly impact every aspect of our lives,” they shared.

Memphis has a big sister, Claire, who, her parents say, “loves Memphis dearly.” They call her his “biggest cheerleader” and say she is very protective of him. But of course, Claire’s life was also forever altered on that fateful day in 2006. “Claire had a baby brother who she loved and adored … she reveled in the role of big sister. She was old enough to observe and suffer through everything that happened to Memphis.”

Memphis and Claire Lafferty
Memphis and Claire Lafferty

Worst of all, the Laffertys say, the nightmarish experience “created fear in Claire that she might ‘get sick and have her arms and legs chopped off.’” 

Sometimes, as parents, we can’t just tell our children the monsters under the bed aren’t real, that we can keep them safe from everything. Because have seen the truth — they know better.

What does a typical day in the life of The Lafferty family look like? “We try to make each day as normal as possible,” Memphis’ parents told me, “but the challenges are always present.”


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0 thoughts on “Is Preventing Meningitis Not Worth the Expense?

  1. petunia says:

    Augh this is heartbreaking. The whole vaccine issue is so scary — there’s so much conflicting information out there. My heart goes out to these families — and how wonderful it would be to prevent any more such tragedies.

  2. high heels says:

    The idea that people are quibbling over the cost of a vaccine instead of saving lives is horrible.

  3. nycblonde says:

    Why is it that in the US, people are concerned with cost and the rest of the world is more concerned with saving lives?

  4. NYCdogmommy says:

    Saving money equals dead people- this is not a good equation.

  5. FBNYC says:

    Those statistics about meningitis are terrifying. I agree with the Laffertys that no child should ever have to go through that.

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