On November 13, 2008, Jamie Schanbaum, then 20 years old and enjoying the life of a typical college student, was feeling ill. Her symptoms were similar to those of the common flu but within 14 hours she was admitted to a hospital in Austin, TX. Two days later, doctors explained that her lack of feeling in her extremities and discolored limbs was because she had contracted meningococcal disease. Jamie survived, though sadly she lost her legs and fingers. They had to be amputated as a direct result of her infection.
Since leaving the hospital, Jamie has shown tremendous strength and perseverance as she endeavors to promote awareness of meningococcal disease and its consequences. In the summer of 2009, Senate Bill 819, also known as The Jamie Schanbaum Act, requiring meningococcal (A, C, W, Y) vaccination of college students, passed despite two previous unsuccessful attempts.
In Jamie’s spare time she became a paralympian cyclist. This hobby turned into one of Jamie’s passions when she won a gold medal in the 2011 US Paralympic cycling games.
Jamie is now working as a GSK spokesperson to educate parents and young adults about the dangers of meningitis and the vaccines available to help prevent it. She wants to share her experience so that others can help prevent this devastating disease.