‘Fit and healthy’ Royal Ballet School dancer, 14, died after contracting rare form of meningitis

‘Fit and healthy’ Royal Ballet School dancer, 14, died after contracting rare form of meningitis during Christmas holiday in Sardinia

  • Valentina Sanna died on New Year’s Day after battling with meningitis
  • The Royal Ballet dancer told her parents she was suffering from a headache 
  • The 14-year-old’s symptoms got worse and she then spent three days in hospital  

A ‘fit and healthy’ Royal Ballet School dancer died suddenly on New Year’s Day after contracting a rare form of meningitis on holiday in Sardinia.

Valentina Sanna, who was described as ‘one of the best in her class’ had told her parents she was suffering from a headache on Boxing Day.

The 14-year-old ballerina from Crosby, Merseyside, died on January 1 after fighting the illness in hospital for three days.

Much-loved Valentina was described as ‘extremely kind and extremely beautiful’ by her devastated father Alberto.

Valentina Sanna (pictured) was described as ‘extremely kind and extremely beautiful’ by her devastated father Alberto

The 14-year-old ballerina (pictured above) was described by her father as 'extremely elegant and graceful'

The 14-year-old ballerina (pictured above) was described by her father as ‘extremely elegant and graceful’

Dr Sanna, 48, said he, his wife, and two other daughters were devastated, but added that the family had been ‘lucky to have her for 14 years’. 

Valentina was a talented dancer and trained up to six days a week at Procter Dance Academy in Crosby and her skill led her to earn a place at the Royal Ballet School.

Dr Sanna, who is a professional musician said his daughter was ‘extremely elegant and graceful’ and that it was something everyone would notice about her. 

‘People noticed how she used to tiptoe into a room. She was very kind and very gentle. We thought she was very musical. She was always perfectly timed and just really, really beautiful.’

Valentina is pictured above in a ballerina pose at the pool side while on holiday with her family

Valentina is pictured above in a ballerina pose at the pool side while on holiday with her family 

Away from dancing, Dr Sanna said Valentina was academically ‘one of the best in her class’ and had a good group of friends.

Dr Sanna said: ‘She loved and was loved very much. We couldn’t have asked for any more, life will be very different without her.’

Her sudden death came ‘completely unexpectedly’, he added.

As well as this, Valentina extended her grace and donated her organs, saving the lives of four young people. 

Her father said that it eased their sorrow knowing that someone else was getting a new life.     

The family had travelled to Sardinia, where the family are from, for their annual Christmas trip before Valentina said she felt unwell.

She displayed flu-like symptoms, Dr Sanna said, and had complained about having a headache on Boxing Day.

When her symptoms began to worsen, her family took her to hospital on December 29.

Dr Sanna said: ‘It was immediately clear that this was to be treated urgently, so they started straight away with antibiotics.’

Valentina died on New Year’s Day. 

Dr Sanna thanks his friends and family for the support, following the death of his daughter. 

The family are hoping to set a charity up in order to honour Valentina’s commitment to dance, and to remember her by. They currently already run a Liverpool-based music charity which helps provide youngsters in the area with free music tuition. 

WHAT IS MENINGITIS?

Meningitis is inflammation of the membranes that surround and protect the brain and spinal cord.

Anyone can be affected but at-risk people include those aged under five, 15-to-24 and over 45.

People exposed to passive smoking or with suppressed immune systems, such as patients undergoing chemotherapy, are also more at risk.

The most common forms of meningitis are bacterial and viral.

Symptoms for both include:

  • Pale, blotchy skin with a rash that does not fade when compressed with a glass
  • Stiff neck
  • Dislike of bright lights  
  • Fever, and cold hands and feet
  • Vomiting
  • Drowsiness 
  • Severe headache 
Headache is one of the main symptoms

Headache is one of the main symptoms

Bacterial meningitis 

Bacterial meningitis requires urgent treatment at hospital with antibiotics.  

Some 10 per cent of bacterial cases are fatal.

Of those who survive, one in three suffer complications, including brain damage and hearing loss. 

Limb amputation is a potential side effect if septicaemia (blood poisoning) occurs.

Vaccines are available against certain strains of bacteria that cause meningitis, such as tuberculosis.

Viral meningitis 

Viral is rarely life-threatening but can cause long-lasting effects, such as headaches, fatigue and memory problems. 

Thousands of people suffer from viral meningitis every year in the UK. 

Treatment focuses on hydration, painkillers and rest.

Although ineffective, antibiotics may be given when patients arrive at hospital just in case they are suffering from the bacterial form of the disease. 

Source: Meningitis Now 

 

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