“The Music of the Soul Lives On: A Henry Mackaman Experience,” a book published to honor a University of Wisconsin student who passed away in 2013 from bacterial meningitis, has been selected as a finalist for two awards.
The book is a finalist for the Foreword Reviews INDIE Book of the Year and for the Midwest Book Awards. The more than 300 page book is a compilation of Henry Mackaman’s poetry, drawings, short stories and music.
As a student at UW, Henry took creative writing classes and was a disc jockey at WSUM, Henry’s grandfather David Strand said. Henry was also a guitarist in his band Phantom Vibration.
Compiling Henry’s work after his death came naturally, Strand said.
“It just made sense that, if we could put them all together and bind them, we would have a precious remembrance of Henry and his creativity,” Strand said.
The family is grateful to have been nominated for not just one, but two awards, Strand said. They hope the book will catch on and maybe bookstores will pick it up, Strand said.
The family is prepared to have as many books as possible printed, Strand said.
Strand said he hopes the book will inspire and motivate people who read it.
“What we’re hoping is that people will read the book and be inspired by this young man and that they will be motivated to maybe be as truthful to their curiosity as Henry was to his,” Strand said.
In addition to the book, the family has raised awareness for meningitis by distributing magnets with the symptoms of meningitis on them to help people recognize the disease.
Mackaman was misdiagnosed the first time he went to the hospital, Strand said. Once he returned to the hospital a day and a half later and was given an antibiotic, it was too late.
“We’re trying to alert people that the diagnosis of Meningitis is very, very rare, but it’s very deadly and to miss it means that some people may never recover, like Henry,” Strand said.
Professor of medical microbiology and immunology Joseph Dillard said meningitis is rare but is more common when young people are coming together from different places such as at army boot camp or college dorms. Kissing or sharing a drink can easily spread the disease.
It’s important for students to be aware of the symptoms, Dillard said.
The early symptoms are similar to flu-like fever, headache and fatigue. More specific symptoms include a stiff neck and photophobia or when the lights seem too bright, Dillard said.
Students should go to the emergency room if they have a high fever and meningitis specific symptoms, Dillard said.
“The disease can kill you in about two days,” Dillard said. “You don’t want to mess around with this.”
In addition to raising awareness about the disease, all proceeds from the book are divided between Henry’s writing prize in the UW English Department, the Henry D. Mackaman Creative Writing Award, and the UW Organ Tissue Donor Program, Strand said.
As Henry died in the hospital, seven of his major organs were harvested. His organs helped save the lives of five people, one of which is a professor at UW, Strand said.
Professor Walter Goodman received Henry’s heart and is now able to fly his airplane again after being given a clean bill of health since receiving Henry’s heart, Strand said.
Goodman allows Henry’s mother, Meredith Leigh, to listen to the heart
“It’s a wonderful thing because Walter and our daughter are very dear friends,” Strand said. “Walter lets Meredith listen to Henry’s heart, which is so beautiful.”
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Strand will use Henry’s story to encourage people to become organ donors as an ambassador for an organ donation organization.
The results for the book awards will be out after this month. The Midwest Book Awards winners will be announced May 12, 2018. The INDIE Book of the Year winner will be announced June 15, 2018.
“It’s very easy to be a grandparent when you have a grandchild like Henry,” Strand said. “He was one of a kind. He was an amazing young man, so thoughtful and so loving. He made friends everywhere he went. I’m so grateful to have known him and to have been gifted to be his grandfather.”