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Chelsea Perrin would love to be one of the lucky ones who will never know the heartbreak of a meningococcal disease diagnosis. She was told to say good-bye to her daughter Tahlea, after the six-month-old was rushed to hospital in October 2018 and given a slim chance of survival.

“Tahlea made it through the first critical 48 hours but spent three weeks in the ICU, followed by 162 days on the general ward,” Chelsea said.

“I was completely unaware of how dreadful the effects of the disease would be on her little body, and she underwent sedation every day for all the operations, skin grafts and dressing changes required.  

“Tahlea’s fight against meningococcal W has left her with amputated fingers and toes, scarring to 80 per cent of her body, and a brain injury that means she is unable to talk, walk or swallow on her own.”

The Geraldton family has been forced to relocate to Perth permanently to manage Tahlea’s ongoing medical support, but has chosen to focus on the positives and to use their experience to raise awareness of meningococcal disease and the importance of vaccination.

“I would like to say a massive thank you to the doctors and researchers who have made sure all babies have access to the Men ACWY vaccine – this will have a life-changing impact and save many lives,” Chelsea said.

“Knowing that 20 families will be spared the pain that we have gone through thanks to this research is bittersweet and I’d love to see the number of cases drop down to zero in the future.”