Mum of teenager who died of asthma attack calls for first aid kits to include inhalers

A devastated mum has told how her daughter was without her inhaler when she died after an asthma attack at work and is now campaigning for them to be included in first aid kits.

Lauren Reid was 19 when she suffered an asthma attack last year on shift as chef at bar Gin71, which escalated into a cardiac arrest, reports Glasgow Live.

Her mother, Elaine Cunningham, from Glasgow, Scotland, had to make the terrible decision to switch off Lauren’s life support machine days later.

Elaine has now launched a campaign to pass “Lauren’s Law” which would allow non-prescribed storage of salbutamol inhalers in commercial kitchens.

The petition, made in partnership with UniChef, has already achieved over 11,000 signatures, and two million views on Tiktok.

Elaine said: “It was an idea, I started it when she was in hospital.

“If there was an inhaler, Lauren would have taken that herself. It was the one and only time she was without it. The law isn’t just staff either, it’s about the customers too, anyone who needs an inhaler who maybe forgot theirs.

“How can I put into words on paper how I would feel if the law was passed? I would feel humbled, that’s how I’m feeling at the moment.

“It’s getting faster and faster and people are listening to my baby girl’s story now, and remembering their inhalers.

“Sometimes I would still get bitter and think, why me and my baby? But I’m not thinking like that any more. This is keeping me going.

“I’m just a mum, trying to help.”

Speaking of Lauren’s asthma, Elaine said: “She suffered since she was born, but Lauren said that she was okay on the day she had the attack.

“I got a phone call at 9pm and I thought it was her but it was her boss asking me to bring her inhalers.

“I thought they were bamming me up and that she was just sitting having a drink with her pals after work, but her boss said it was very serious.

“The last thing I heard was her shouting in the background ‘Mum, I’m panicking’.”

At that point, Lauren collapsed and suffered cardiac arrest. Her manager tried to revive her with CPR, and when she was taken to hospital a pulse was found, but Lauren had suffered permanent brain damage due to the lack of oxygen.

Elaine continued: “I had got a taxi into town. I could see the ambulances and I knew she was in them and I just shouted, ‘where is my wee wean? How can I get to my wee wean?’.

“We got her pulse back, but I was told that it was too late.”

The petition reads: “In 2014 the Human Medicines Act was amended so that schools could keep emergency stocks of salbutamol inhalers without prescription.

“Asthma is increasing in the UK and we believe that adult sufferers of asthma working in high-risk commercial kitchens should have similar life-saving support.

“In 2020 chef Lauren Reid tragically suffered an asthma attack whilst at work. That day Lauren did not have her inhaler with her and days later she sadly passed away. If an emergency asthma kit had been on site, she may still have been with us now.

“If high-risk commercial kitchens were allowed the same rights as schools to support their employees in an emergency situation we believe that Lauren will not have died in vain.”