Dr. Leonard Friedland & Sheila Advento

April 24 is World Meningitis Day

For Those Who Experience Meningitis, the After Effects Can Last a Lifetime

Sheila Advento

Meningitis Survivor and GSK Spokesperson

Dr. Leonard Friedland

Pediatrician and Vice President, Director Scientific Affairs and Public Health, Vaccines North America at GSK

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April 24 marks World Meningitis Day, an awareness day that aims to educate about the signs and symptoms of meningitis and the importance of vaccination. This year’s theme, “Life After Meningitis,” underscores the potentially devastating consequences of the disease – whether that means coping with long-term disabilities or losing a loved one.

Meningococcal meningitis, often referred to as meningitis, is an inflammation of the protective membranes, or meninges, covering the brain and spinal cord.[i] Early symptoms of meningitis may be similar to those of the flu, but can progress quickly and can be fatal, sometimes within 24 hours.[ii],[iii]

While uncommon, one in 10 people infected with meningitis will die, and one in five survivors will suffer long-term consequences, such as loss of limbs, brain damage, deafness and nervous system problems.[iv]

Meningitis survivor and GSK spokesperson Sheila Advento knows firsthand just how life-changing meningitis can be. After being in a coma for eight days, Sheila was forced to undergo amputations of both hands and both legs under the knee.

This World Meningitis Day, the most important thing for parents to know is that there are two different types of vaccines and both are needed to help protect their adolescents and young adults against meningitis. For more information, please visit: www.meningitisb.com.

More about Sheila Advento


Sheila Advento was 26 years old when she contracted bacterial meningitis in July 2003. After being in a coma for eight days, she was forced to undergo amputations of both hands and both legs under the knee. In September 2010, Sheila became the first woman to receive a successful double-hand transplant in the United States. Today, as a compensated GSK spokesperson, Sheila shares her inspiring story to raise awareness about meningitis and help protect others from this disease.


More about Dr. Len Friedland


Dr. Len Friedland is Vice President and Director, Scientific Affairs and Public Health, Vaccines, North America at GSK. He is also a licensed pediatrician in the state of Pennsylvania. Dr. Friedland has held many positions in clinical research and development with GSK since 2003, specializing in infectious disease vaccination.

Prior to his work at GSK, Dr. Friedland was Division Chief, Pediatric Emergency Medicine at Temple University School of Medicine. Dr. Friedland studied medicine at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York and conducted his residency in pediatrics at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and his fellowship in pediatric emergency medicine at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children, also in Philadelphia.

He is a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Alternate Industry Representative to the FDA Vaccines and Related Biologics Product Advisory Committee, and the Industry Representative Member on the Department of Health and Human Services National Vaccine Advisory Committee. He has published over 45 peer reviewed articles as well as book chapters on healthcare and vaccination topics during his career.

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