• Jared and his daughter, Everly. (Annie Hossack)Source: Annie Hossack
My family is currently mourning the death of our beloved Jared - my 34 year old brother-in-law who died earlier this year from an asthma attack, leaving behind my sister - his fiancee - and four children. We can't bring him back but we ask that you take asthma, a chronic disease, much more seriously.
By
Jenna Quartermain

25 Jul 2017 - 3:47 PM  UPDATED 25 Jul 2017 - 3:52 PM

On 26 February 2017, a normal Sunday evening spent watching Netflix with my husband, I received a phone call from my mum sobbing into the phone that my brother-in-law, Jared, had died.

He had been hosting a BBQ at the house he shared with my sister and their four children, a typical activity for Jared as he was social, friendly and loved entertaining. Symptoms of a disease, so common it is often dismissed as unimportant, flared up and within minutes he was gone. My sister’s screams could be heard in the background on the other end of the line.

Jared was 34-years-old and engaged to be married to my sister and the love of his life, Annie, who he would have wed just three short months from the day he lost his life.

He was a father to four children: Dylan, Asha and Bray, who were his step-children in one sense, but children he considered his own in every other; and Everly, his sweet baby girl who had turned two years old just a few weeks before.

Jared was 34-years-old and engaged to be married to my sister and the love of his life, Annie, who he would have wed just three short months from the day he lost his life.

He was a young, happy man enjoying the company of his friends and family, one moment cutting up the meat, and the next, surrounded by nearly a dozen paramedics after an asthma attack that would take his life right there on the floor of a room where so much of his life had been lived.

A month prior to his passing, Jared had suffered a severe attack while cycling to work on the Steve Irwin Way on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast. “Lucky”, “miracle” and “the worst asthma attack I have seen in a decade, mate” were just some of the things Jared recalled hearing from the paramedic in the hospital’s resuscitation unit after recovery. As a family, we were shaken. My sister held onto him that much tighter and it deeply affected Jared’s attitude towards his asthma and his mortality.

Asthma had played a long and devastating role throughout Jared’s life; he and his two brothers lost their mum to the disease 17 years ago, and Jared himself suffered a lifetime of attacks and symptoms. To spend time with Jared was to spend time with his puffer; it went with him everywhere. He had his Asthma Action Plan memorised and most of those around him knew the steps in which to take to assist him should his symptoms flare up.

Asthma had played a long and devastating role throughout Jared’s life; he and his two brothers lost their mum to the disease 17 years ago, and Jared himself suffered a lifetime of attacks and symptoms.

A common response to Jared's death has been, "But people don’t die from asthma, do they? Didn’t he have a puffer?" and as we are left reeling from the death of this wonderful man, I can't help but wonder, “Why is it that we still believe that asthma isn’t all that serious?"

Asthma: It can be mild but it can also kill

Asthma Australia reported that in 2014 a total of 419 people died from asthma complications, and nearly 40,000 additional hospitalisations occurred due to severe attacks.

Millions of people across the country suffer from this ailment with symptoms that can be severely and life-threateningly exacerbated by countless everyday environmental, chemical and biological interferences. Just last year, a spate of sudden asthma related fatalities occurred in Melbourne after storms carrying pollen hit the city and the surrounding areas. Nine people died and paramedics worked on over 2,000 more civilians. 

Organisations like Asthma Australia work tirelessly to raise funds for asthma research, and much smaller organisations such as CleverDux work to raise awareness and save lives on a more personal level. I spoke to Jarrad Dober, who is co-founder of CleverDux with his brother Courtney, and asked him about Asthma Action Plans. 

A common response to Jared's death has been, "But people don’t die from asthma, do they? Didn’t he have a puffer?" 

“The Action Plan outlines what needs to be adhered to day-to-day and what needs to be done, step-by-step, when symptoms flare up and in an emergency. For someone not to have an Action Plan increases the risk of an incident greatly. At present, the best statistics Australia can get is that only 41 per cent of 0-14 year olds and 20 per cent of 15-plus year olds who suffer from asthma have an Action Plan."

These are worrying statistics when considering that these age groups are the most commonly hospitalised due to asthma and are often at school or in situations where their primary caregiver is not present.

A legacy to change the way we think of asthma

Jared’s death could not have been prevented given the seriousness of his circumstances that day, but it need not have been in vain. If part of his legacy is to have made asthma far more broadly discussed within our society, and to at the very least ensure it is a disease we take seriously, then lives will be saved. There are positive steps that we can all take to reduce the risk of tragedies like this happening, including: 

  • Create and share your Action Plan if you haven’t already and ask those around you about theirs.
  • Identify triggers and help yourself or those around you to avoid them.
  • Contribute to helping families and individuals living with asthma to manage the condition by donating to organisations such as Asthma Australia or CleverDux.
  • Consider changes you can make around the home to filter the air and protect you in the event of environmental changes.
  • Take your symptoms seriously! And follow up with your GP as asthma attacks can be progressive.
  • Change the way you discuss asthma. It is a chronic disease that can be mild or life threatening.

In memory of our Jared

My sister Annie never had the opportunity to marry Jared, after all the years they spent making plans and building dreams. Because of asthma, there is a whole lifetime together that they miss out on. She has lost the love of her life and the father of her children, and as has plagued our thoughts every single day since his death, Jared lost the opportunity to continue living the life he always dreamed of, being a family man and a wonderful father.

His impact on the lives of his kids is shown in everything that they do, and his name still resounds in the hallways of his home and on the lips of the children he loved so deeply, especially with his littlest joy, Everly, who will remember him only through photos.

If asthma should ever come knocking on her door, we will be ready. We hope you will be, too.


Not sure what triggers asthma? Unsure about terminology or how to help someone with asthma? Get informed! Follow Asthma Australia on Facebook for frequent updates on living with asthma.

Australia's getting its first village specifically designed for people with dementia
Korongee will feature a village structure based on a typical Tasmanian cul-de-sac streetscape that allows residents to feel at home and wander freely within a safe and supported environment.
The women who don’t know they’re autistic
Autism manifests in different ways. The signs are often less visible in women than in men, leading many to be under diagnosed.
What it's really like to be a child with arthritis
Irene Hatzipetros was only 11-years-old when she was diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis. Doctors later told her mother that she was unlikely to live beyond 15. But rather than give up, Hatzipetros got fired up.