Woman ravaged by meningitis wants every college student protected from it
AUSTIN, Texas. -- Jamie Schanbaum, 28, had made a name for herself as the woman who is saving lives.
"I didn't know it was a life-threatening disease, and I didn't know that when you're on college campus you're at a higher risk of catching it. And I walked onto campus not knowing that -- and almost lost my life to the disease."
In 2008, Schanbaum, then a student at the University of Texas at Austin, contracted meningococcal meningitis. The infection attacks the tissue around the brain and spinal chord.
"I was watching my limbs go from red rash within a couple of days to purple to black to rotting to decaying with my fingers shriveled up like raisins. And my feet curled up like ballerinas could not fathom. And I was just decaying."
She lost both legs below the knee, the majority of both hands and spent seven months in the hospital.
Her mother went to the Texas Legislature and urged lawmakers to create a law to require the meningitis vaccine for students who live on campus. The law passed.
"I got meningitis C so that vaccine was available, and I didn't know about it, and if I had gotten it, I would have been fine," Jamie Schanbaum said.
The disease is often spread in places like dorms. But she got it living off campus, so she knew more needed to be done.
In 2011, after the death of a Texas A&M student who lived off campus, Schanbaum helped to get the law amended to include all college students in Texas.
She now says her next mission is to get the law amended to included the meningitis B vaccine so that all five strains of the disease are covered.
With her unstoppable attitude, she doesn't want the disease to ruin her life or anyone else's.