‘97 per cent dead’ – miracle double meningitis survivor to feature in new exhibition

Vivian Bell
Vivian Bell
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IMAGES of a miracle mum who twice beat meningitis are set to feature in a new photographic exhibition.

Viv Bell, from Concord, Washington, was described by medics as “97 per cent dead” as she lay comatose in a hospital bed.

But after battling back to health, twice beating the killer disease, the 62-year-old hairdresser is now set to feature in the Focus on Meningitis online exhibition.

“I was really delighted to be asked to take part in this exhibition as it highlights the after effects that so many people face if they survive the disease and how lives change forever,” she said.

The mum-of-three, who lost both legs to the bug and uses specially-designed artificial limbs to help her walk, was first struck down by the disease in 1983. After seven weeks in hospital, she successfully beat it – only for it to return in 2008.

“The doctor said I was 97 per cent dead when I was taken to hospital,” she said. “I was in a coma for 12 weeks and intensive care for 13 weeks and as a result I lost both legs from the knee down as well as my fingers and the use of one hand.”

The exhibition, which is a mixture of professional and amateur photographs, was launched to mark the 25th anniversary of the Meningitis Research Foundation (MRF) and shows how survivors have overcome the disease to get on with their lives.

Viv, who is an ambassador for the international charity, said: “Meningitis and septicaemia are diseases you never expect to happen, but when they strike they can be devastating not just for the person who falls sick, but for all their loved ones, family and friends.”

Viv appears alongside images of Paralympic Gold medallist and World Champion’ Jonnie Peacock, who became an MRF Patron in 2012.

He lost his right leg below the knee to meningococcal septicaemia when he was just five.

MRF chief executive Christopher Head said: “Meningitis and septicaemia strike fear in the hearts of parents and medical professionals alike.

“They are frightening diseases which can kill or seriously disable in a matter of hours.Focus on Meningitis captures some of their remarkable stories. Stories we believe should be shared.”

To view the exhibition, visit www.meningitis.org.