From partying with friends in the cold night air to being rushed to hospital unable to breathe: the last desperate hours of a 17-year-old girl who suffered from a common condition Australians should take MUCH more seriously
- Teenager Breah Elvins, 17, from coastal New South Wales, died of a severe asthma attack in February
- He was at a campfire with friends in his small town, Taree, when he felt sick.
- He then suffered several cardiac arrests, a blood clot, and then brain damage.
- Breah’s mother, Tina, thinks she would have been treated better in a city
A devastated family of a “vibrant” 17-year-old girl has called on authorities to take asthma much more seriously as they blame poor specialist care in regional areas for their daughter’s death.
Breah Elvins, 17, suffered an asthma attack in February, sending her into a catastrophic spiral of cardiac arrest, a blood clot, respiratory failure and brain damage.
She had suffered from severe asthma all her life and had a similar call when she was 14 years old.
Breah had spent the night of her attack at a campfire with her friends in the small coastal town of Taree, New South Wales.
When she began to feel sick from sitting in the cold air and inhaling the wood smoke from the fire, she headed home.
His mother said the next few hours were like a “nightmare.”
Taree’s teenager, Breah Elvins (above), suffered a fatal asthma attack in February after struggling to find the right treatment for several years.
Breah (above) suffered multiple cardiac arrests after attending a bonfire with her friends that triggered a severe asthma attack.
‘It just got worse overnight. Eventually she woke us up,” Ms Elvins said.
‘His chest was very tight and he was struggling to breathe, so we called an ambulance.
“Suddenly Breah’s precautionary trip to the hospital became critical. She went into respiratory arrest and then cardiac arrest.
Breah suffered two more cardiac arrests, a blood clot that stopped circulation in her legs, and suffered severe damage to her brain.
“They did some tests that confirmed what the doctors already knew. My baby was brain dead,” Ms Elvins said.
‘My best friend throughout my childhood also died of asthma. He died 27 years before my Breah.
“I can’t believe in all this time that we still haven’t found a cure.”
Breah’s mother said her childhood friend died of a severe asthma attack and she “can’t believe” there is still no cure (Pictured Breah)
Ms Elvins believes her daughter’s asthma would have been taken more seriously if she had lived in a city.
“There is a shortage of doctors in regional and remote areas of Australia,” he told Daily Mail Australia.
Breah’s family (above) believe she would not have suffered her fatal asthma attack if she had received treatment in a city.
‘People can wait weeks to see a doctor or have to travel long distances. When you are unable to breathe, this can be extremely frightening and may increase your risk of needing emergency care in hospital.
‘People living in these areas have higher asthma death rates, many of which could be prevented with access to GPs and asthma education.
‘The added challenge is that seeing a respiratory specialist can be even more difficult, traveling more and then there’s the added cost, time away from work, etc.’
By Christmas, Ms Elvins hopes that organizations like Asthma Australia, which provide care for people living in remote communities, will receive greater recognition and support.
“Asthma attacks can come on quickly, in just a few minutes, or they can build up over days,” he said.
‘Asthma Australia offers a personalized telephone advice and support service: 1800 ASTHMA, accessible to all Australians regardless of where they live.’
More than 400 Australians died of asthma attacks in 2021. More than 270 of those deaths were women.
The shocking death toll of asthma in Australia
More than 10 per cent of Australians suffer from asthma.
Asthma means that a person’s lungs can easily become inflamed and restrict their breathing.
Up to 200,000 Australians have severe asthma, which means they suffer from chronic asthma symptoms, even with medication.
Asthma Australia says: ‘Someone with severe asthma will continue to have regular asthma symptoms and asthma attacks despite taking high doses of medication.
‘Your asthma does not respond or improve with your usual asthma medications.’
Typical triggers for people with asthma include pollen, pet dander, air pollution, and viruses.
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