Thursday 23 November 2017

'I never thought this would kill him' - Devastated father of Wexford teen who died from asthma attack

Kathy Armstrong and Mark McConville

The father of a teenager who died from an asthma attack has said: "I never thought this would kill him."

Chris Martin (19) passed away suddenly during Christmas 2015 and his heartbroken father Michael is taking part in an asthma awareness campaign to try to prevent other tragedies.

The late Chris Martin
The late Chris Martin

UCC student Chris, who was from Gorey in Co Wexrford, had been diagnosed with asthma as a young child but Michael says it never stopped him from doing anything.

Michael said: "Sometimes when he was playing rugby or soccer he would need the inhaler, they always had the inhaler so they would throw it onto the pitch, took a few puffs and he was grand, he was never hospitalised.

"Asthma never prevented Chris from doing anything, he did rugby, he did soccer, he did surfing - you name the sport and he tried it.

"He lived until 19 but men of 90 won't live as full of a life as Chris lived.

"He always had the inhaler but as for the preventative one he might take it on a Monday or a Tuesday, then forget about it on a Wednesday or Thursday.

"It wouldn't be until he got a bit chesty that he would say, 'I better start taking this.'"

Read More: 'He was kind. He was the greatest kid you'll ever come across' - Brother's tribute to talented rugby player (19) who died after asthma attack

Speaking in a new TV ad for The Asthma Society, Michael recalled the carefree Christmas they'd enjoyed just days before Chris' death.

He explained: "Christmas Day we were all sitting here and Chris was lying in front of the fire and there wasn't a bother on him, absolutely not a worry in the world.

"He was enjoying his Christmas Day, he went out on St Stephen's night and met his friends, had the laugh, had a few drinks, came home.

"He was having the craic with Tommy (Chris' older brother) and went to bed.

"He woke up the next morning at 6 o'clock with an attack and just couldn't breathe.

"The inhalers didn't work so we decided to bring him down to the call doc to see would he get the nebuliser and as he was putting on his socks he just keeled over and that was it."

One person dies every week from asthma in Ireland and Michael is urging people with the condition to use their preventative inhalers.

A young Chris Martin pictured with his father Michael
A young Chris Martin pictured with his father Michael

He said: "In a million years I never thought asthma would kill him, I never thought asthma would kill anyone being honest with you.

"Chris' story shows if you control your asthma you can live life to the full and do anything you want, as Chris did.

"But if you don't, as we've seen with Chris, it can kill.

"We don't want any other family to go through what we went through and we will make people aware of what asthma can do."

Read More: Shock as student Chris dies after asthma attack

Averil Power, CEO of the Asthma Society, spoke of the dangers of asthma and the importance of keeping it under control.

She said: "People don’t realise asthma can be fatal if not properly managed. One person dies every week in Ireland of an asthma attack.

"There is a popular misconception that only those with severe asthma are at risk.

"This is not the case. In fact, a 2014 study of asthma deaths in the UK found the majority of those who died had mild or moderate asthma and that under-use of preventer inhalers was a major factor.

"It is very important everyone with asthma realises their condition can potentially be serious and takes their preventative medicine as prescribed, even when they are feeling well.

"They also need to know that taking your reliever inhaler more than twice a week is a sign your asthma is not properly controlled and that you should talk to your GP.

"With proper care and treatment, most asthma deaths can be prevented."

The Asthma society has established a fundraiser in Chris' memory, if you would like to donate €4 please text CHRIS to 50300.

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