22 March 2023

London Marathon race after son contracts Meningitis

Welder, Ben Parmenter, will be running the London Marathon for the first time this year in support of Southampton Hospitals Charity. His son, Oscar, contracted Meningitis in 2008 and had his life saved by the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit at Southampton Children’s Hospital.

“I live in Southampton with my wife, Sarah, daughter, Yasmine, and sons Alfie and Oscar.

In March 2008, we were delighted to welcome Oscar into our family.

Then, two weeks later when we were feeding him it looked as though he was holding his breath. We called 111 for advice and were told to immediately go to the emergency department, keeping all windows open on the way to keep Oscar’s temperature down.

Once at the emergency department, the nurse assessed him, and we were rushed through for additional tests and later we were told a lumber puncture was necessary. It was at this time we realised how serious this could be.

This confirmed that Oscar had contracted Meningitis. We were told that he had a 50/50 chance of survival, and if he did survive, he would be disabled.”

Meningitis is an infection surrounding the brain and spinal cord and can be very serious if not treated quickly.

“Three areas of Oscar’s brain were affected by the Meningitis. It was such an overwhelming time. We were sickened to think he might not pull through, and if he did, how it would affect his life.

We were transferred to the specialist paediatric intensive care unit (PICU) in Southampton Children’s Hospital. There were lots of good and bad days. Sarah stayed in hospital with Oscar for four weeks while doctors treated him intravenously with Acliclovir.

Once he left hospital, they performed regular development checks to assess his motor skills and hearing. These continued until he had hit all his developmental milestones. Now 15 years old, he no longer needs any follow-up hospital appointments.

The NHS were amazing right from the initial phone call to the life-saving treatment given to Oscar and the support given to us as his parents.

We were told that if we hadn’t acted so quickly and if Oscar hadn’t the specialist care and treatment, things could have been very different today. Despite it being a very scary time, we feel very fortunate to have such an amazing children’s hospital on our doorstep.

Running the London Marathon

My son-in-law, Matt, ran the London Marathon last year and Sarah, Yasmine, and I went up to London to cheer him on. It was an amazing atmosphere and Matt persuaded me to enter the ballot for the 2023 race. To my surprise, I got in on my first try!

I’ve always wanted to thank the PICU for the care given to Oscar, so it was a perfect opportunity to run for Southampton Hospitals Charity.

I tend to run to keep fit, and before I got the ballot place, even a 10k would be a long run for me. Now all of a sudden I have to add 20 miles to that!

Training is going well, and I’ve just completed a 20-mile race as preparation for the London Marathon. I’m really looking forward to the race from the runners perspective this year!”

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