'Fit and healthy' man died after he contracted meningitis

My fit and healthy step-father died after ear-ache turned out to be meningitis – he was brain-damaged within hours

  • Gareth Rowlands, 50, from Gwynedd, Wales, died after contracting meningitis 
  • The painter and decorator was a ‘fit and healthy man’ before, Daily Post reports
  • READ MORE: Fears as life-saving meningitis vaccine given to toddlers is cancelled by its manufacturer for ‘commercial reasons’

A ‘fit and healthy man’ who complained of an ear ache has died after contracting meningitis, which left him ‘brain damaged’.

Gareth Rowlands, 50, ended up in an induced coma and was ‘fighting for his life’ all within days, before tragically passing away on Saturday.

The painter and decorator, from Gwynedd, Wales, was given ‘very little chance of survival’ after an MRI scan confirmed most of his brain was damaged.

Gareth first fell ill on January 16, just a few days before his birthday, the Daily Post reported.

Now his family are raising funds to give him ‘the best send off possible’. 

Gareth Rowlands, 50, ended up in an induced coma and was ‘fighting for his life’ all within days, before tragically passing away on Saturday. Pictured with his partner Angie

‘He complained of an ear ache on the Saturday’ his step-daughter Linzi wrote on GoFundMe. By Sunday, January 17, he had developed a headache.

‘And very early on the Monday morning, my mum found him literally fighting for his life, his brain being starved of oxygen,’ she said.

He was put an induced coma, and then left sedated while being cared for in Intensive Care.

An MRI scan heartbreakingly revealed that the brain damage ‘wasn’t compatible with life’.

‘Gareth was bought out of the coma, taken off the sedation and ventilation and tragically passed away at Ysbyty Gwynedd on February 4th 2023,’ Linzi added.

She also wrote that her step-father a ‘it and healthy young man’ until contracting meningitis.

He leaves behind Angie, his partner of 29 years, and his three step-children: Linzi, Jamie, and Sam.

It comes as doctors have raised the alarm over plans to stop giving toddlers a meningitis vaccine, claiming it would leave children vulnerable to the life-threatening infection. 


Meningitis is inflammation of the membranes that surround and protect the brain and spinal cord.

Anyone can be affected but at-risk people include those aged under five, 15-to-24 and over 45.

People exposed to passive smoking or with suppressed immune systems, such as patients undergoing chemotherapy, are also more at risk.

The most common forms of meningitis are bacterial and viral.

Symptoms for both include:

  • Pale, blotchy skin with a rash that does not fade when compressed with a glass
  • Stiff neck
  • Dislike of bright lights  
  • Fever, and cold hands and feet
  • Vomiting
  • Drowsiness 
  • Severe headache 

Headache is one of the main symptoms

Bacterial meningitis 

Bacterial meningitis requires urgent treatment at hospital with antibiotics.  

Some 10 per cent of bacterial cases are fatal.

Of those who survive, one in three suffer complications, including brain damage and hearing loss. 

Limb amputation is a potential side effect if septicaemia (blood poisoning) occurs.

Vaccines are available against certain strains of bacteria that cause meningitis, such as tuberculosis.

Viral meningitis 

Viral is rarely life-threatening but can cause long-lasting effects, such as headaches, fatigue and memory problems. 

Thousands of people suffer from viral meningitis every year in the UK. 

Treatment focuses on hydration, painkillers and rest.

Although ineffective, antibiotics may be given when patients arrive at hospital just in case they are suffering from the bacterial form of the disease. 

Source: Meningitis Now 

All youngsters in the UK receive the jab, which protects against meningococcal group C (MenC) bacteria, around their first birthday. These bugs cause meningitis – a rare infection of the protective membranes around the brain and spine.

The condition, which strikes healthy children without warning, is difficult to distinguish from milder childhood illnesses in the early stages and can lead to death within 24 hours.

Bacterial meningitis can cause life-threatening blood poisoning called septicaemia and lead to serious injuries, including loss of limbs, deafness and brain damage.

You can donate to the family’s fundraiser here.

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