I go over my daughter Olivia’s last hours, again and again, wishing I could change something. We didn’t know she had asthma. If we had, I truly believe my little girl would be with us this Christmas.
Olivia’s last day was Red Nose Day. At school, she’d thrown herself into the fun and seemed tired and pale when I collected her. Back at home, I fetched her something to eat, she had a bath and went to rest on her bed.
Then she called for me. I found her on all fours, struggling for breath. We used the inhaler she got on repeat prescription for what I was told was a grass allergy – but it didn’t work. We had no idea she had asthma – she’d never been diagnosed or assessed.
Things went from bad to worse. We were getting ready to go to hospital when she threw up and collapsed. We tried to revive her, but nothing worked. A paramedic arrived with breathing equipment and soon after we were in an ambulance. Inside I knew it was too late.
If only we’d been told Olivia had asthma. Then we would have made sure we were prepared and she had the support she needed.
‘If onlys’ won’t bring Olivia back. Now all I can do – and I do it with all my heart – is to try to make sure other children don’t lose their lives to asthma. I try to keep myself busy doing what I can to raise money for Asthma UK. We’ve done sponsored walks and cycles, bake sales, all sorts really – and every year we hold a ball in Olivia’s name.
Asthma UK is doing incredible work to fight this killer disease. You can pick up the phone and speak to an expert asthma nurse on their Helpline and their brilliant information and resources – like asthma packs for adults and children – help people to take control of their condition. On top of that, they’re funding world-class research, which isn’t just improving diagnosis and treatment; it could mean that one day soon, they could find a cure.
But they can’t do this without our help. Asthma UK desperately need funds to cover the cost of their work. That’s why I hope you’ll add a gift to Asthma UK to your Christmas list. Big or small, it really will make a difference.
Olivia would be 14 now. Maybe we would have gone Christmas shopping together or shared the thrill of preparing for a party. My family doesn’t celebrate New Year anymore – because every year that passes takes us further away from when our little girl was here.
I hope you can help us keep the memory of Olivia alive this Christmas and in doing so, help stop another child being lost to asthma.