Family, friends remember meningitis victims - WSMV Channel 4

Family, friends remember meningitis victims

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

The Tennessee Department of Health confirmed Friday that four more cases of fungal meningitis have been identified in Tennessee, bringing the total statewide to 29.

Three people have died from the outbreak in Tennessee, and there have been five confirmed deaths nationwide.

All of it impacts families whose loved ones only wanted pain relief but wound up with something much more serious.

They include Eddie Lovelace, a longtime judge in Kentucky who died after receiving several of the suspect injections to ease back pain.

"My husband was very healthy and it was quite sudden that he began having these symptoms," said widow Joyce Lovelace. "I don't know that I will ever erase from my mind the hours that we watched him die. It wasn't an easy death, and you know, it's just very hard for us to take."

According to The Tennessean, the second death was Thomas Rybinksi. The Smyrna man spent decades working at General Motors.

And in Brentwood, Otter Creek Church of Christ plans to honor the life of Diana Reed this weekend.

Reed made it a point to make an impact, putting feet to her faith and challenging her friends and her pastor to do the same.

"She's tenacious. Anything she decided to do, she would go after it 100 percent," said the Rev. Josh Graves.

The Brentwood woman joined her husband in founding the Wayne Reed Christian Childcare Center. The nonprofit targets at-risk children.

Diana also cared for her husband, who battles ALS.

But, her own battle with back pain led Diana to the St. Thomas Outpatient Neurosurgery Center for an epidural steroid injection.

She soon developed meningitis and, regrettably, became the face of a growing outbreak.

"She lived with such a reckless commitment to people. It started with people. It ended with people. We've lost somebody who made this city better," Graves said.

"My heart is broken for her husband and her boys right now," said longtime friend Pat Ward. "I lost a treasure of a friend. I lost my best friend, but so did Nashville and so did Otter Creek Church. We've lost a voice for this community, and my prayer is we will rally and keep her voice strong."

Only one fungal meningitis patient has left the hospital, and close to two dozen of them remain in the hospital Friday in a variety of conditions.

Friends of one of them, Anna Sullivan, launched a Facebook page to rally support and prayer and to share information.

To visit the page, visit: http://www.facebook.com/PrayingForAnna.

In all, 23 states received one of the three lots of voluntarily recalled injections. To see a list of all clinics which received shipments, visit: http://www.cdc.gov/hai/outbreaks/meningitis-facilities-map.html.

Copyright WSMV 2012 (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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