'It's Pretty Horrible Seeing Your Child's Lips Turning Blue' - Mum Recounts Life-Threatening Asthma Attack

Published: Mon 6 May 2024 09:31 AM
11-year-old Jamie Ross’ lips turned blue, and he couldn’t catch his breath.
Not even his mum - a nurse - and his dad - a paramedic - could help.
Jamie was having a severe asthma attack.
Tuesday 7 May marks World Asthma Day, and Jamie wants to share his story to help raise awareness.
The attack he experienced happened when he was 9 years old.
He remembers struggling to breathe and he started to panic.
"I didn't know what was going to happen," Jamie says.
"I hadn’t been to the hospital for something big like that, so I thought it was life-threatening and I was very scared."
Jamie ended up in hospital, on breathing machines, for a couple of days.
Jamie’s mum, Helen, says it is worrying how quickly things can change.
"It's pretty horrible seeing your child’s lips turning blue and not being able to catch his breath.
"It's really frightening - an anxiety-heightening time - but you have to remember to stay calm, though that can be hard when you are in the moment."
Most of the time, Jamie’s asthma is under control and is well-managed. He takes his preventer inhaler every day and knows what his triggers are.
Jamie, of Taupō, loves to play the guitar and enjoys playing hockey, swimming, football, cricket and mountain biking.
Helen says her son is getting bigger, stronger and more independent every day.
"He knows his limits and his triggers, so is aware when he’s getting short of breath and that he needs to stop and breathe slowly and take his reliever inhaler.
"Thankfully, he hasn’t had a full-blown asthma attack in about three or four months."
The Asthma and Respiratory Foundation NZ is raising funds this World Asthma Day to enrol as many health professionals as possible on a course that provides critical education on asthma and COPD management.
As a nurse, Helen says it is essential for health professionals to be up-to-date with their knowledge of asthma and other respiratory conditions.
"With the huge shortage of doctors and medical personnel, it's so important for nurses, like me, to up-skill so that we treat people as effectively and quickly as possible to achieve better outcomes - especially for children.
"Kids want to go to school, they want to be able to do things in everyday life - run around and play - but sometimes it’s really hard to do that."
Foundation Chief Executive Ms Letitia Harding says education is crucial to ensuring better outcomes for the 700,000 Kiwis with respiratory conditions.
"Jamie's experience illustrates the frightening reality of asthma attacks, especially for children and their families.
"It's a reminder of the urgent need for both awareness and education to ensure better management and outcomes for those living with respiratory conditions."
In New Zealand, 98 people die each year from asthma and thousands of children are hospitalised.

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