Matt Dawson reveals 'two weeks of hell' over son's meningitis fight


England rugby hero Matt Dawson has revealed how his family endured "two weeks of hell" as his two-year-old son fought meningitis B.

He described how toddler Sam underwent life-saving treatment at Great Ormond Street Hospital, as a petition to have all children vaccinated against the deadly virus gathered over 400,000 signatures.

The father-of-two, who was a member of England's 2003 World Cup winning squad, urged his followers to sign the petition, which was launched after the death of toddler Faye Burdett.

The two-year-old, from Maidstone, died on Valentine's Day after fighting the infection for 11 days.

Dawson, 43, told his followers: "I ask one favour. Please read and sign so fewer kids suffer," as he shared a number of heartrending images of his son receiving intensive treatment while covered in lesions.

He tweeted: "The 2 weeks of hell we've just had cos of Meningitis. Sami lucky due to amazing people @GreatOrmondSt #vaccinateNOW."

The Question Of Sport captain said he and his wife, Carolin Hauskeller, had been "overwhelmed" by the reaction the revelation had received.

He explained they took the decision to share the "upsetting" images of Sam because it was important to raise awareness and praised the "superb" A&E staff at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital for spotting the virus.

"We're indebted... #lifesavers #vaccinateNOW," he added.

Faye's story, told by her mother Jenny, has been widely shared on social media and her family said they are enduring "a pain you cannot describe" after the toddler fatally contracted meningitis B.

Mrs Burdett has published photos of her daughter, including one of her in a hospital bed just before she died. 

The toddler was intially taken to A&E with a rash on her forehead, but her condition worsened until her parents were left with the terrible decision to cease the increasingly extreme efforts to save her, including "massive" amputations, and let her die. 

"We campaign for change in her memory," Mrs Burdett said as she called on people to sign the petition asking the Government for the meningitis B vaccine to be given to all children, not just newborn babies.

"All children are at risk from this terrible infection," she said. "There needs to be a roll-out programme to vaccinate all children, at least up to age 11."

A vaccine to protect against meningitis B is available on the NHS for babies aged two months, followed by a second dose at four months and a booster at 12 months.

Parents who wish to have older children vaccinated must pay privately, although a worldwide shortage of the vaccine Bexsero means stocks are very low.

Manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) hopes to have increased stocks in the UK by the summer. The NHS programme is unaffected.