MaryJo A. Kwett

I lost my beautiful, vibrant, multitalented and well-traveled daughter, MaryJo, to meningococcal meningitis when she was just, eight days before her 16th birthday.

MaryJoKwettEarly one morning, MaryJo began to feel sick complaining of a sore throat. I couldn’t see anything unusual after examining her throat – no redness, no swelling, no blotches – but she did feel warm.

I left for work that morning and told MaryJo I would call to check up on her throughout the day and that she should call me if she felt worse. That afternoon, MaryJo called and told me she had brown spots on her face. I left work and rushed home. On my way home I was thinking, MaryJo has not been feeling well, now she has brown spots. I knew at that moment she had meningitis! I found MaryJo sitting on the couch, still awake, alert and talking but noticed the brown spots had turned into blotchy purplish rash. I called 911 and the ambulance rushed her to the hospital.

Despite heroic efforts to save her, MaryJo died within 13 hours after her first symptoms. Even though I’m a nurse I still was unable to tell how sick my daughter was until it was too late.