The mum of a young boy with asthma has spoken about the terrifying asthma attack that left him in ICU, in a bid to raise awareness about the condition.
Hadil Ibrihim says she feared the worst for Mohamed (now five), and was speaking as NI Chest, Heart and Stroke (NICHS) launched its new asthma awareness campaign.
“He was diagnosed with asthma shortly before he turned two – that was when the big one hit us,” she said.
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“We took him to hospital and it turned out the carbon dioxide in his body was very, very high and he had to be admitted into the ICU.
“He was intubated, and they put him to sleep – scary isn’t the word.
“I was nine months pregnant at the time and with the shock of it all, my blood pressure went through the roof and I went into labor right there in the hospital.”
Hadil said even with all the best treatment the doctors could offer, it was still an extremely frightening time.
“It was really bad, all these different doctors were telling me ‘let’s hope he pulls through’,” she said.
“As a mother, let me say, that is really scary.”
Hadil, originally from Sudan, says she wants to raise awareness of the condition, which can sometimes be viewed as a mild inconvenience as opposed to life-threatening.
She said the doctors that worked to save his life and those that now help manage his condition have been brilliant.
“The doctors have also made it so much fun to him that he has never been ashamed of his inhalers or his asthma,” she said.
“Even when he’s out with other kids, he isn’t afraid to say, ‘I can’t run’ or ‘I need a break’.
“He understands his asthma and he’s very good at looking after himself – it is down to the doctors who help make him feel proud, like a champion and a hero for looking after his asthma.”
Hadil said she keeps inhalers and nebulisers on her at all times, even when she is not with Mohamed and the young boy is also now confident enough to let teachers and grown-ups know when he needs his inhaler.
Another crucial part of keeping him healthy is knowing his triggers, like smoke and dust.
Hadil says she has had to adapt their family life around her son’s asthma.
“Mohamed is the middle child, so at first it was really hard for my older child,” she said.
“I had to miss birthdays, I had to miss Christmases, I had to miss so much because I was always in hospital with him.”
She said the number on thing that worried parents of asthma sufferers could do was to “get educated”.
Hadil also advised parents to take inhalers everywhere with them and not to overlook even the small signs of an attack.
Fidelma Carter is Head of Public Health at NICHS and said that two out of three asthma deaths were preventable.
“Alarmingly, only 30% of asthma patients know how to use their inhaler properly,” she said.
“Furthermore, only 15% of health care professionals are educated on correct inhaler use which means they are not passing on the right techniques to patients.
“This situation needs to change as the blunt fact is asthma can be fatal.”
The charity is urging those with asthma to ensure they use their brown preventer inhaler daily to build up the protection in their system.
It found that the UK was the highest narked for asthma deaths among 10 to 24-year-olds out of high-income European countries.
Fidelma said it highlighted exactly why there can be “no room for complacency with this potentially deadly condition”.
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