Matt and Carolin Dawson on Lorraine

Matt Dawson and wife Carolin talk son Sami's terrifying meningitis ordeal

Matt and Carolin Dawson didn't know what to look for when their son got ill in 2016

Emmy Griffiths

Retired rugby player and TV presenter Matt Dawson has opened up about his son Sami's terrifying ordeal with meningitis in order to raise awareness of the symptoms so other parents can look out for them. Speaking with his wife, Carolin, on Lorraine, he explained: "That's the slightly embarrassing bit on behalf of Carolin and I really, we didn't know what the signs were – we didn't know that if Sami had had cold hands and feet, even though he was really feverish, that's a little bit weird. I just remember thinking at the time, 'That's a little bit strange'. In my mind now, the awareness that we're trying to get out there – if you understand those signs and pick them up – do something about it immediately."

Matt and Carolin opened up about their ordeal

Sami contracted the infection in February 2016 at the age of two, and spent two weeks critically ill and on life-support. Speaking about the horrific ordeal, Carolin said: "Straight away I think. 10 minutes we went into hospital, loads of doctors around us. I sort of zoned out of life a little bit, I was just in shock. I couldn't believe it. Everything happened so quick." She added: "I had two home births, I never go to hospital. There was a point when we saw the tiniest of spots on his tummy, when I panicked. It was a proper panic. We were still very lucky. The decision was made like that [clicking her fingers]." Speaking about how Sami is doing, Matt and Carolin confirmed he's doing well, adding: "He's got a few scars on his wrists and ankles from the rash that got really bad."

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The pair are supporting the Tackle Meningitis campaign, and Matt said: "The reason why we're both with you here, it's not complex, we're trying to promote the awareness around meningitis. We're not trying to raise any money or funds. We know we slightly failed to a degree by not understanding those signs and symptoms, the cold hands and feet, the vomiting, the headaches. As a parent you know when your kid is really, really ill."