Letter from a mother who lost her son due to a fatal asthma attack at age 3 – An email from the Asthma Society of Canada

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Dear Erika,

The holidays are supposed to be such a happy family time. But they can be heartbreaking when you’ve lost a loved one, especially a child.

We lost our beloved son, Emerson, last December due to a fatal asthma attack. He was only three.

I desperately want to make sure my family’s tragedy doesn’t happen to anyone else. The Asthma Society of Canada is working hard to make that happen.

Erika, please give a gift that really matters this holiday season. Your donation to the Asthma Society of Canada’s Holiday Appeal will ensure that other families receive the information and education they need to recognize signs of the disease and how to prevent a tragedy like ours.

Emerson was such a joy. He was always up for anything and afraid of nothing. Our beautiful boy wanted to be just like his brother, almost two years older than him.

Emerson had his first chest infection at 11 months. He got a ‘puffer,’ which we then used whenever he got a cold or cough. He would use it for two weeks at a time, and it always worked to relieve his cough and chest congestion.

Otherwise, he got the usual coughs and colds, but nothing that seemed unusual. He was a happy and healthy child.

That all changed last December. He caught a cold, and as always with Emerson, it went to his chest. We took him to the urgent care clinic, then a pediatrician, where his puffers were increased, then changed. Over the next two days, he had severe bouts of coughing, sometimes coughing so hard he threw up.

During the night of December 15, he began crying and coughing heavily. He was so wheezy and congested, we decided he needed to go to the Emergency Department. We wondered if he might be having an asthma attack.

Supporters like you have done so much to educate Canadians about the disease through the work of the Asthma Society of Canada. But there’s still more that needs to be done. Thank you for being part of the solution.

At Emergency, they saw Emerson quickly, and gave him three nebulizers (a mask that blows tiny drops of medication deep into his lungs). While receiving them, he was happy and his chest was clear.

The hospital performed an x-ray on his chest and the doctors said there was nothing obvious on them, possibly the beginning of bronchitis. They felt I was doing everything I could at home. Unsatisfied, I planned to call the pediatrician as soon as we got home.

On the way home, Emerson coughed non-stop and kept asking for his puffer. I stopped and gave it to him, but it didn’t help.

If I had known more about asthma, I would have turned right around and gone back to the hospital. I know now that someone who doesn’t respond to the puffers needs to be seen right away.

A few minutes before we got home, Emerson’s coughing stopped. I thought he had fallen asleep in the car, as he had done so many times before.

When I went to get him out of his car seat, Emerson was not breathing. I called 911 and started CPR, but he never came back. The autopsy later confirmed Emerson died from an asthma attack.

Emerson had never suffered an asthma attack before. I think if I had been better educated about the disease, I would not have left the hospital that day. Maybe our sweet little Emerson would still be here.

Our family is not alone in our grief. In Canada, 250 people die from asthma attacks each year. But you can help change that. Please send your generous gift to this Holiday Appeal to ensure other families have happy holidays for many years to come.

 

Thank you,

Sheri Olain

Emerson’s mom