Sara Stelzer’s life was just beginning when it was tragically cut short.
At 18, she was in the prime of her life, a college freshman excited for her classes and being part of sorority at San Diego State University. She was loving her life.
It all started one Saturday in October of 2014, when she called her parents to complain of a bad headache. Her headache soon was paired with exhaustion and nausea, leading the teen to sleep through some of her classes after the weekend was over.
“We thought it was the flu, we told her to rest and go to the student health center. She was more concerned with missing classes than how bad she felt,” Sara’s father, Greg Stelzer said.
However she developed a blotchy, purple rash which is common in meningitis infection.
Sara was within a puncture room by Tuesday morning, a friend of Sara told Greg and his wife, Lauri about it via text message.
By the time Sara’s parents arrived at the hospital, their daughter was in a medically induced coma. Doctors placed the teen on antibiotics but it was too late as the infection spread to vital organs including her brain as well as the spinal cord. “We just didn’t know anything about bacterial meningitis,” says Laurie.
“Every bit of information that we got along that ride was worse than the last piece of information,” Laura said.
Greg added: ” All of a,sudden, within two days, we lost her.”
“You don’t realize how your physique and thoughts is influenced by a detriment like that. The first year was a fog. My older daughter took a semester off from the college. We grieved our way, went to support groups and counselling,” the father said. But, when the fog lifted, “we felt that we needed to do something.”
So, for honouring Sara’s memory and to spare other parents the pain of suddenly losing a child to the disease, Laurie and Greg have been dedicating themselves to raising awareness of meningitis B, including teaching the signs and symptoms of the disease.
“Meningitis B is an uncommon but potentially deadly bacterial infection that can affect the lining of the brain and spinal cord, or it can cause an infection in the bloodstream-or both,” said Dr. Robert Glatter, an emergency physician with Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.