Sinclair Cares | Survivor of meningitis speaks out about immunizations


August is National Immunization Awareness Month.

A woman who lost her hands and legs to bacterial meningitis is fighting to get every college student in American protected from all diseases.

She's the voice for survivors of meningitis all over the world. Twenty-eight year old Jamie Schanbaum has made a name for herself as the girl who's saving lives.

"I didn't know it was a life threatening disease and I didn't know that when you're on college campus you're at a higher risk of catching it. And I walked onto campus not knowing that -- and almost lost my life to the disease."

In 2008, as a student at the University of Texas at Austin Jamie contracted meningoccocal meningitis, an infection that attacks the tissue around the brain and spinal cord.

"I was watching my limbs go from red rash within a couple of days to purple to black to rotting to decaying with my fingers shriveled up like raisins. And my feet curled up like ballerinas could not fathom. And I was just decaying."

She lost both legs below the knee, the majority of both hands and spent seven months in the hospital.

Her mother went before the Texas legislature urging lawmakers to create a law requiring students who live on campus to get the meningitis vaccine. It passed.

"I got meningitis C so that vaccine was available and I didn't know about it and if I had gotten it I would have been fine."

And even though it's typically spread in places like dormitories, Jamie got it while living off campus and knew more had to be done.

So, in 2011, after the death of a Texas A&M student who also lived off campus she helped get the law amended to include all college students in Texas, period.

Jamie says her next mission is to get the law amended to include the Meningitis B that all 5 strains of meningitis are covered.

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