This Father's Day is a special day for Angels Dads on Meningitis (ADOM). Angel dads from across the country came together in Denver, Colorado to launch a national campaign on meningitis awareness.
Meningitis Angels (MA) was founded in memory of Ryan Milley who became ill on Father's Day 1998 and died the next morning. Bob Milley said, "Ryan was our only child, he should not have died. A vaccine could have saved his life. Each day without my son seems like an eternity. For the first time in many years, with the launch of this awareness campaign, Father's Day seems bearable."
The dads all have one common goal to make sure other fathers do not have to suffer the pain of losing a child or see their child struggle just to live day to day.
Bacterial meningitis is a very serious disease which can lead to blindness, loss of limbs, paralysis, organ failure, severe seizure disorders and skin scaring, learning disabilities, deafness, brain damage and death.
Those dealing with the aftermath of bacterial meningitis often face the breakup of families, job loss, serious economic hardships, social seclusion, depression and more.
Angel dad, Jody Meigs donated a kidney for his daughter Leslie who suffered kidney failure as a result of her meningitis. He said, "Giving a kidney to my child to save her life was a gift of love. I would give my life for my children. However this could have been prevented."
There are 3 vaccine preventable forms of meningitis, Pneumococcal, Hib, and Meningococcal. In the US, pneumococcal and Hib vaccines are routinely recommended by the CDC for infants. In the last 10 months CDC updated recommendations for meningococcal meningitis vaccination of children ages (11) years, teens age 16 and all those students upon college entry.
Frankie Milley, (Milley) MA founder and national executive director said, "On June 22, I will be in Atlanta as the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) discusses recommending meningitis vaccines for high-risk infants, as young as 9 months old. How fitting, that I will stand before ACIP on the 13th anniversary of my son Ryan's death and comment on the very disease that took his life. Our country has made great strides with prevention of all three of these deadly forms of meningitis. However, meningococcal disease remains one of the most deadly vaccine-preventable diseases. We often think of this form of meningitis as a college dorm disease. Meningitis does not stop at the dorm room door. We saw that with the death of Sierra Krizman in Colorado, Jane Menard in Louisiana and just this year with Nicolas Williams who died while attending Texas A&M." Angel dad, Greg Williams led the fight for a new Texas law which requires all first time college students to be immunized. Williams said, "My son should not have died. We should have known he was still at risk even though he lived off campus. As a father, I had to make sure we work to protect all of our kids."
Milley said, "Now is an extremely important moment in the fight against meningococcal disease. With the recent FDA approval of a vaccine for children as young as 9 months old, and more vaccines for children as young as 2 months being considered for approval – as well as a Group B meningococcal vaccine in the pipeline – our 13-year fight to eliminate this horrendous disease in the U.S. will hopefully soon end in victory."
Angel dad Chris Boone, whose infant son Ethan was left with the loss of all four extremities and most of his face from meningococcemia said, "It broke my heart when Ethan saw his little sister with new shoes and asked, Daddy why don't I have shoes?"