Lancashire lad who lost legs to meningitis tells his story on TV

A courageous young man who lost both his legs after almost being killed by meningitis will be featured in a television documentary.

Friday, 31st July 2015, 9:00 pm
Jacob Gray, 23 is learning to walk after having both legs ampulated after meningitis and septicemia, he is pictured with his fiancee Summer Whitaker

Jacob Gray and his fiancee Summer Whittaker, 22, were filmed as part of BBC documentary Disabled In An Instant, a film about young people who have battled to survive a life-changing illness or injury.

The 23-year-old was suddenly struck by meningitis in January 13 and became severely ill with septicaemia.

Medics battled to save him and didn’t think he would survive the ordeal but amazingly, he pulled through.

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Jacob Gray, 23 is learning to walk after having both legs ampulated after meningitis and septicemia

However, the meningitis caused so much nerve damage, Jacob could not control his legs or feet at all and in February last year, he had both legs amputated.

Jacob is under the care of the care of the Specialist Mobility Rehabilitation Centre, on Watling Street Road, Fulwood, Preston and was discharged from hospital earlier this year after two years as a patient.

He has been fitted with prosthetic limbs and begun the slow process of learning to walk on them but has vowed to be walking independently to escort Summer down the aisle. Jacob said: “I am having physiotherapy and going to the gym at Preston’s Specialist Mobility Rehabilitation Centre three or four times and I am putting a lot of hard work into walking with my prosthetic legs. I am still very slow and wobbly, but I am now able to walk using walking sticks instead of frames.

“My walking is progressing, but it is still going too slow for my liking. But I can go out with the guys and we try to do as much as we can.

Jacob Gray, 23 is learning to walk after having both legs ampulated after meningitis and septicemia

“I am determined to walk down the aisle with Summer and it is going to happen.

“We want it to be perfect and if that means waiting a while, that is fine.”

While Jacob was in hospital, he was approached through charity Meningitis Now by a producer asking if he would like to be involved in a documentary highlighting his story.

Jacob was filmed taking his first steps out of hospital on his prosthetic limbs and film makers also followed Jacob and Summer on their first date after his hospital discharge.

Summer, a graphic designer, said: “The documentary focused on our happy moments, but they also looked at the complications people can face after becoming suddenly disabled.

“Jacob has some issues getting a specially adapted car with hand control and the documentary followed his experience.

“Jacob is doing really well and we have put our wedding on hold for now and are just having fun while he re-builds his life. I am very proud of him.”

Jacob, who lives in Carleton, near Poulton, said: “I was a 21-year-old fit and active ignorant young lad who thought I ruled the world and that nothing like this would happen to me.

“But when it does, you learn to cope and just have to do things differently.

“Summer has stuck by me through it all and it was lovely to have her filmed for the documentary too.”

• Disabled In An Instant will be shown on Monday on BBC3 at 9pm