Asthma care plan could have saved life of my 33-year-old husband

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A Northern Ireland mother of three whose husband died from a sudden asthma attack last year has said his life may have been saved if he had been given an asthma care plan.

Stephen Leyland, from Holywood in Co Down, died at the age of 33, leaving behind baby twins and a two-year-old son.

His wife, Laura, believes his life might have been saved if he had been given a written guide detailing the medicine he should take and instructions on what to do in case of an asthma attack, known as an asthma action plan.

Mrs Leyland, a teacher, is working with the charity Asthma UK to campaign for healthcare professionals to ensure they give asthma patients basic care, and for those with asthma who don’t have a written asthma action plan to download one from Asthma UK’s website and speak to their GP or asthma nurse.

“I still can’t believe that an asthma attack snatched away my wonderful husband, and it has left me and the children devastated,” she said.

“Harry was almost two when he watched me fight to save his daddy’s life. No child should have to go through that.

“Stephen had had asthma since childhood but it wasn’t something either of us thought of as severe. There had been no big warning signs that this could happen.

“His asthma attack was a bolt from the blue that completely shattered our lives. That’s why regular asthma reviews are so important and why I’m pushing for them.

“You think of asthma as a childhood condition or something that affects vulnerable and older people, not a strapping 33-year-old rugby player.”

She described how, in the run up to his death, her husband had been using his inhaler more frequently and how he had suffered “a few episodes” she later realised must have been asthma attacks.

On November 4, he collapsed and had to be rushed by ambulance to hospital.

By the time he made it hospital, he had suffered cardiac arrest twice. He passed away in the intensive care unit “surrounded by everyone who loved him,” Mrs Leyland said.

She added: “There had been no big warning signs that this could happen. That’s why regular asthma reviews – and pushing for them – are so important. I need to make sure Stephen’s death wasn’t for nothing.”

Asthma action plans can be filled in with GPs or asthma nurses. Asthma UK is launching a new updated version of its adult asthma action plans. For more information, or to download a plan, visit the Asthma UK website at