Vaccine Preventable Suffering – Gaitley Batton
Gaitley, almost lost her life to a serious bacterial infection called meningococcal disease, when she was 4 years old. On New Year’s Eve 1997, Gaitley wasn’t feeling well so her mother, Heidi, took her to an Ear, Nose, and Throat doctor, who diagnosed her with an ear infection and sent her home to rest. However, by the next day, Gaitley’s temperature rose to 106 degrees, and she began vomiting and became weak and delusional. When a purplish rash developed on her daughter’s body, Heidi realized her daughter might be suffering from something more serious and had Gaitley’s father rush their daughter to a local hospital.
Once at the hospital, an emergency-room doctor recognized the purplish rash as a classic symptom of meningococcal disease and decided to transport Gaitley to another hospital better equipped to handle her condition. Gaitley was taken to the hospital where Heidi worked. Shortly after arriving, her heart, kidneys, and pancreas began to fail and her lungs started to fill up with fluid. The infection in her blood also caused tissue damage in her extremities, resulting in the amputation of Gaitley’s toes on her left foot. In all, Gaitley was in the hospital for 40 days.
But her troubles didn’t end there; eight years later, at the age of 12, doctors had to amputate Gaitley’s left leg below the knee due to further complications resulting from meningococcal disease. This is what Gaitley’s mom said:
“There is a vaccination out there that prevents this from happening,” she said. “I’ve been talking about this for a while now… And it’s hard to get someone’s attention unless something happens… once that happened (the Clemson student died), it was like ‘Oh gosh! This is in our community.”
I am very sorry for all the pain Gaitley and her family have had to go through. On the other hand I am very happy to hear that they are out there advocating for, and educating the public about, the meningococcal vaccine, so that others can be spared the traumatic experience they had to endure. Thank you.