Cheltenham News Tragedy estate agent, 23, dies due to undiagnosed meningitis infection

Cheltenham News Tragedy estate agent, 23, dies due to undiagnosed meningitis infection

Cheltenham News

A ‘bubbly and talented’ young estate agent went to bed suffering from ‘cold symptoms’ but didn’t wake up.

Tragic Abigail Harris, 23, unknowingly had a bacterial form of meningitis, a serious infection of the thin lining that surrounds the brain and spinal cord.

She had been feeling ill for several months but had tried to shake it off.

Tragic Abigail Harris, 23, unknowingly had a bacterial form of meningitis, a serious infection of the thin lining that surrounds the brain and spinal cord

She went to hospital on March 27, complaining of a painful wrist, and was diagnosed with tendinitis and advised to rest it.

Later that evening Abigail, of Cheltenham,  Gloucestershire, messaged her paramedic aunt Fiona Scarlett, to explain she had difficulty breathing.

Her aunt advised her to ask her boyfriend Kieron to take her to hospital but Abigail didn’t want to bother him and went to bed. 

The conversation was the last one the pair had. 

Ms Scarlett said: ‘She said she couldn’t drive to hospital due to her wrist hurting so I told her to get her boyfriend Kieron to take her.

‘But she hadn’t told him how bad she felt and he’d gone to bed. She didn’t want to bother him.

‘She said she’d try to go to sleep. We left it there.’

The next morning, Fiona did not receive a response to a message asking her niece if she was feeling better.

In Abigail’s memory, her relatives are raising money for the charity Meningitis Now, which wants to stop the disease devastating lives and have set up a fundraising page 

Abigail’s father called to say she had been rushed into hospital at 4am after her boyfriend found her fitting.

She was in intensive care when they discovered a rash on the inside of one of her knees.

‘She was being treated for meningitis,’ said Ms Scarlett.

‘This was such a shock. It hadn’t even occurred to me it could be that as we don’t hear about it so much anymore.

‘Abi did not improve with antibiotics, she was receiving expert care and it was becoming clear that things were not looking good for our girl. We kept hoping.’

‘As the day progressed, the doctors started to prepare Abi’s mum, dad, brother and her boyfriend for the worst news.

‘On Friday March 29, with all her close family and best friends nearby, Abi was declared brain dead.

‘The next day and as per her wishes, she donated her organs to save others and she was finally allowed to rest.’

April 24 was World Meningitis Day and Abigail’s family agreed to share her story to help raise awareness about the disease, as they do not want other families to suffer like they have.

Her parents Nicola and Andy, step-parents Dawn and Christopher, brothers Ryan and Liam, as well as fiance Kieron and extended family members say they have been devastated by their loss.

‘She has left a gaping hole in our family and our hearts,’ read their tribute.

‘Abigail was an incredible girl with a bright, bubbly and fun-loving personality. She was always smiling, she brought happiness into any room.

‘Abs was a talented actress having graduated with a BA in Drama.

‘She was also an amazing baker. In her death she gave life to others, by donating organs to four people. She loved helping others.’

The lettings negotiator worked for Connells Estate Agents in the Midlands, where she had recently moved to with Kieron and their pet dogs.

Abigail went to hospital on March 27, complaining of a painful wrist, and was diagnosed with tendinitis and advised to rest it.  She is pictured on her university graduation day

In Abigail’s memory, her relatives are raising money for the charity Meningitis Now, which wants to stop the disease devastating lives and have set up a fundraising page

They are also encouraging parents to make sure their teenagers have the MenACWY vaccine, which protects against four different strains of meningococcal bacteria.

‘Abi had had MenC vaccinations as a baby and pre-school but had been in the wrong age bracket for vaccination with the ACWY vaccine, too old for the year 9/10 schedule and in year two of university,’ added Fiona.

‘She (and we) were unaware it was available up to age 25 from the GP.

‘She had always had all vaccinations that had been advised, according to the schedules.

‘It is devastating to know that had she been vaccinated, we would likely still have our gorgeous girl with us, fulfilling her dreams of marriage, her own family and a home with Kieron.’ 

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