A MOTHER whose son nearly died from meningitis while at university has warned young people to make sure they are vaccinated.

Debbie Collino was warned by doctors her son Matt might not survive after he was struck down in 2010.

Then 19, the student was in his second month during his first year at university when he fell ill.

At first, the university’s doctor thought Matt had flu.

Mrs Collino, 56, from Bosham, near Chichester, said: “Matt decided to go and stay with his girlfriend at the time who was a short train ride away in Nottingham.

“That decision not to be alone saved his life.

“Matt’s symptoms were getting worse and he had very cold hands and feet.

“His girlfriend took him to casualty but Matt was told again that he probably had flu.

“Some hours later Matt’s girlfriend was concerned because he was very hot and was not making sense when speaking. He was really sleepy.

“My husband decided to drive to Matt and when he arrived hours later he could see Matt was gravely ill, so he took him back to hospital.

“By this stage Matt was so unwell that he was rushed straight through to the resuscitation room and the medical teams began their life saving work.

“Matt now had a rash appearing and the doctors stressed he was unlikely to pull through.”

Matt spent four days in intensive care and a further two weeks in high dependency and neurological wards.

Initially he couldn’t walk or speak and his eyesight was affected.

However, intense rehabilitation following his meningococcal meningitis meant he was able to return to university later that year and went on to complete his degree.

Mrs Collino said: “I’m keen to get the message out there and encourage everyone eligible to have the vaccines available to protect themselves and also know the sign and symptoms of meningitis.

“To university students, my advice is to trust your instincts.

“If you, or a friend, are unwell get someone to check on you regularly and don’t go to your room on your own. Be aware of the signs and symptoms and seek further medical help.”

The Meningitis Research Foundation is campaigning for greater awareness and reminding people there is a free vaccine available for students that protects against four kinds of meningococcal meningitis.

Teenagers are a high risk age group for meningitis and septicaemia.

University freshers are particularly at risk because they mix with so many other students, some of whom are unknowingly carrying the bacteria.