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I lost my mum to asthma

Georgina’s mum passed away in 2017 after an asthma attack. She wants other people to avoid losing their loved ones like this.

Georgina's mum

Mum had asthma since she was a child. She’d often get puffed - as she would say - and struggle for breath. Asthma attacks would often make her panic, which in turn would make her feel even more out of breath.

One evening, mum woke up in the middle of the night really struggling with her breathing. She took herself downstairs to try not to disturb my dad, but he could hear her struggling. He came downstairs and called an ambulance straightaway.

Before the ambulance arrived, mum had passed out. And when they did arrive, she went into a cardiac arrest.

When she got to hospital, mum was put into an induced coma to help with her breathing. We were told she’d had a severe asthma attack making her airways close. This meant oxygen couldn’t get to her organs, causing them to fail.

One week after mum had the asthma attack in the night, the decision was made to turn off her life support machine.

It was such a shock

On her death certificate, the cause of death was given as status asthmaticus. This was such a shock. I’d never heard of this before, and I haven’t found many others who did. 

Status asthmaticus: a severe condition in which asthma attacks follow one another without pause

We wanted more information but found very little.

Mum’s death was such a shock because she’d always had asthma and had learnt how to manage it. Asthma is quite common, and lots of people – including me - don’t realise it just how serious it can sometimes be.

Looking back, I now realise that mum’s asthma was not under control.

She used her preventer inhalers regularly but still got severe attacks. Most of the time they could be relieved at home, but on some occasions, she’d need to go into hospital. Normally she’d be kept in overnight for monitoring, but sometimes it would be longer. She was always told to remember to take her preventer inhaler, and to rest.

I want to raise awareness of how serious asthma can be

By talking about what happened to my mum, I want to raise awareness of having care that means your asthma is under control. I suspect my mum’s asthma had become difficult to control or even severe. This is the case for a small number of people living with asthma.

If you, or someone you know has asthma, make sure you have a written asthma action plan, and you have regular reviews of your treatment. 

If your asthma isn’t well controlled ask your health care professional for more help. Being admitted to hospital as a result of an asthma attack is definitely a sign your asthma care needs to be reviewed.  

I’m organising a bake sale at work to raise awareness and money for the British Lung Foundation to help support others affected by lung conditions.

I hope that by getting people talking about their lung health, I’ll help to raise awareness and save lives.

Read our online information on asthma.

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14 May 2019

Last medically reviewed: April 2017. Due for review: December 2020

This information uses the best available medical evidence and was produced with the support of people living with lung conditions. Find out how we produce our information. If you’d like to see our references get in touch.