UT Student, Meningitis Survivor Tells Her Story [Watch]

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After losing her legs, six fingers, and almost her life to bacterial meningitis in 2008, Jamie Schanbaum made an incredible comeback. Now she’s back again, telling her story in a scare-you-straight video from Texas Children’s Hospital.

Schanbaum was living in a North Campus apartment when she contracted the deadly disease. Doctors had to amputate her legs and six fingers to save her life. As Schanbaum recovered, she and her family lobbied to make the meningitis vaccine mandatory, an effort that paid off in 2009 with the passage of the Jamie Schanbaum Act. The law ensures that all on-campus students in Texas get the vaccine, and in 2011, another law passed that includes off-campus students as well.

Now Schanbaum has returned to her studies at UT. She also excels as a cyclist, winning gold at the USA Cycling Paralympic Road National Championships. Tragically, many other meningitis victims do not survive. The Texas Children’s video tells the story of Nicolis Williams, a Texas A&M student who died of the disease.

Despite the legal requirements, about 1,400-3,000 Americans still suffer from meningitis each year—so Schanbaum is still telling her story.

“If you don’t get the meningitis vaccine, you’re literally putting yourself at risk to die,” she urges in the video.


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