How a 12-year-old boy’s death after an asthma attack led to a change in the law

Asthma is a condition that affects more than 25 million Americans and over 3 million of these are children.

For most asthma sufferers inhalers are a lifeline and a comfort to know if they feel an attack coming on their inhaler will often help stop it developing into something serious.

Asthma is so common we often forget that it can have fatal consequences and if the sufferer doesn’t have their inhaler with them the stress can make the symptoms of an attack even worse.

Repeated calls to carry his inhaler

Ryan Gibbons was just 12 years old when he suffered an asthma attack at school but despite his parents sending him to school with an inhaler, it wasn’t available to him when he needed it most.

Tragically Ryan died after the asthma attack at his school in Ontario, Canada. His school didn’t allow him to keep his inhaler with him despite objections raised by his mom and a doctor’s note.

Sandra Gibbons

“You would give him an inhaler but then he would get caught with the inhaler and then it would be taken away,” his mom Sandra Gibbons told CBC News Canada.

“Then I’d get a phone call. So it was actually very frustrating. I didn’t understand why. I didn’t realize that the policy actually stated that the prescribed medication needed to be in the office.”

Ryan was playing soccer with his friends when he suffered an asthma attack. He didn’t have access to his inhaler as it was locked in the principal’s officer.

His concerned mom had repeatedly raised the issue of Ryan not being allowed to carry his inhaler with the school but they still kept confiscating it.

Sandra Gibbons

Following Ryan’s death his heartbroken mom launched a campaign calling on the government for a change in the law.

Three years later her calls were successful and Ryan’s Law was passed in Ontario making it illegal for schools to keep inhalers away from kids suffering from asthma, CBC News reported.

Sandra Gibbons

Asthma Society of Canada’s president and CEO at the time the law was passed Rob Oliphant said as an asthma sufferer himself he knew how stressful it was not to have his inhaler nearby.

“Not only do their triggers actually affect their lungs…but the stress of not having a puffer available can actually exacerbate it and make it a worse feeling,” he added.

Please share this article to inform others about the importance of children with asthma having access to their medicine. No one should have to suffer this.