Grieving father's plea after asthma death

Chris Martin Image copyright Asthma Society of Irleand
Image caption Chris Martin was a fit 19-year-old student when he died suddenly after a severe asthma attack

A grieving father whose son died after an asthma attack has shared his story in an attempt to prevent other deaths from poor management of the condition.

Michael Martin's son, Chris Martin, was a fit 19-year-old student who played rugby for University College Cork at the time of his sudden death.

Two days after Christmas 2015, he woke up gasping for breath and died as his family tried to get medical help.

His father urged those with mild asthma to manage their condition properly.

"In a million years, I never thought asthma would kill him," Mr Martin said.

"I never thought asthma would kill anyone actually, being honest with you."

Image copyright Asthma Society of Ireland
Image caption Michael Martin has filmed an appeal for the charity's awareness campaign

However, the condition causes, on average, the death of one person every week in the Republic of Ireland, according to the Asthma Society of Ireland.

The charity has set out to correct a "popular misconception" that only those with severe asthma are at risk of death.

'Preventative medication'

Mr Martin has taken part in the society's latest awareness campaign, which is running on Irish TV and on social media from Saturday.

His son was diagnosed with asthma when he was about four years old, but had never been hospitalised with the condition.

He grew into an active teenager who "lived life to the full" and was involved in several sports, including surfing and mountaineering.

"Chris always carried his reliever inhaler and would use it while playing rugby," Mr Martin said.

"However, he would often forget to take his preventative medication. He might take it on a Monday or a Tuesday but then forget to take it on a Wednesday or Thursday.

"It wouldn't be until he got a bit chesty that he would remember to take it again."

'Unable to breathe'

He added that his son did not realised his asthma was not under control, or that he was at risk of a serious attack.

Mr Martin described how Chris went to bed as normal on the night of 26 December 2015, but woke at 06:00 the next the morning unable to breathe.

He said they tried to get him to a doctor so he could use a nebulizer, but Chris "keeled over" as he tried to get dressed, and died in front of his family.

Image copyright Asthma Society of Ireland
Image caption Chris Martin had been involved in several sports since he was a young boy

Averil Power, chief executive of the Asthma Society of Ireland, said: "Unfortunately, Michael's story is not unique.

"We have been contacted by the families of other young people who died of asthma in the past 18 months, aged seven, 16, 19 and 21.

"Most were fit and active young people who had no idea they were at risk of dying of an asthma attack."

She added: "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."

Ms Power advised patients to take their preventative medicine "as prescribed, even when they are feeling well" and to alert their GP to problems.

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

More on this story