Source: Twitter

Husband warns asthma sufferers about third week of September following wife's death


Sep. 19 2019, Updated 12:36 p.m. ET

Summer can be pretty brutal for asthma sufferers. All the pollen in the air can make it difficult to breathe and, in some cases, it can trigger an asthma attack. This is something that Peter DeMarco from Somerville, Massachusetts, knows all too well. 

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In September 2016, his wife, Laura Levis, sadly passed away from what seemed like a random asthma attack. The week had been the same as any other, she'd gone to a concert with friends a few nights before, but the day of her death — September 16 — was far from random. 

Laura had died during Asthma Peak Week. And according to Peter, who wrote an essay on the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America’s (AAFA) website, knowing about peak week could have saved her life. 

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According to the AAFA, asthma attacks peak throughout September because of high ragweed season. During the month, the ragweed pollen of 17 different species of the wild plant fills the air. The third week of September is particularly bad as viruses such as rhinovirus, which can trigger asthma attacks, start to make their way around schools and workplaces. The week has earned the nickname Asthma Peak Week.

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“It’s a perfect storm, so to speak,” Sumita Khatri, a national asthma expert with the Cleveland Clinic and medical advisor for AAFA says.  

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The events surrounding Laura's death are particularly sad. While she suffered from an asthma attack, she was able to walk to CHA Somerville Hospital. Sadly, it was before dawn and the door to the emergency room was locked. She called 911, but due to a series of "systemic and individual failures," help never came. 

But while Laura could have been saved had circumstances been different, Peter still wants to warn asthma sufferers about peak week, writing: 

"Laura didn’t die just because she had an asthma attack. But in the end, asthma is what took her life, much as it claims some 3,600 lives nationally each year — 10 lives each day."

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"Had Laura known about the increased danger of suffering an attack during Peak Week, would she have taken different precautions that morning? I am left to wonder."

"Would she have treated the first sign of her attack with more urgency? Would she have called me or someone else for help, instead of heading to the hospital on her own?"

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 25 million Americans suffer from asthma. That's why it's so important for everyone to know about peak week.  

Peter continues: 

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"Nothing is within your control until your asthma is back under control, so when an attack strikes, never be alone. Always tell someone. Laura’s story proves this more than anything. Maybe that person will end up driving you to the hospital; maybe they'll just calm you down, as asthma intensifies when one starts to panic. I hope you share this message as well with the people you love who have asthma."

"Through the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, I’ve created a public service video to raise awareness this September. If you watch it, you will see me cry, as I have cried a thousand times these past three years for Laura. Her death, on this third anniversary, is as painful as ever for me."

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"There is no replacing the people you love in life — no replacing their laugh, their smile, their touch, their kiss. But there is remembering. So please remember Asthma Peak Week. Remember Laura Beth Levis, and her story. Help, just maybe, save someone else’s life by spreading the word."

"Because I know Laura would really want that."


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