A grieving dad has told how he cradled his 10-year-old daughter in his arms as she passed away from an asthma attack. Kynan Cook tried in vain to save his daughter Kristen for 15 minutes while waiting for the ambulance to reach their home in Te Poi, 10km southeast of Matamata. The Waikato farmer hopes his daughter’s death will be a warning to the parents of children who suffer from asthma to be extra vigilant about symptoms.
“Kristen had asthma attacks in the past, but this was the one we couldn’t get her back from,” Cook said. “She died in our arms. It was very quick.” Kristen’s death prompted a warning from the Asthma Foundation’s medical director, Bob Hancox. He said recent bad weather and extra pollen in the air at the beginning of spring meant asthma sufferers should take precautions.
“People should be vigilant. Some individuals might find that their asthma is worse at this time of year.” Cook said Kristen, a talented athlete, came into his bedroom before dawn on Tuesday complaining that she was having trouble breathing. He and his partner Anne Murray put the year six student on a nebuliser and dialled 111. The operator advised them to perform CPR and chest compressions.
“Because of the severity of the attack, she had already passed before the ambulance got there,” Cook said. More than 300 people attended Kristen’s “magical” funeral at the home of her grandparents Gary and Raewyn Cook in Katikati on Friday. They have raised money for sick children for the past 20 years. Gary Cook said the asthma attack had struck without warning. “She went to bed with a sniffly nose, she didn’t have a cough or a cold,” he said.
“Asthma attacks can certainly catch parents unaware. But even in a case like this where all the precautions have been taken, it wasn’t enough.” Cook said despite suffering from asthma all her life his granddaughter was the fastest student at her school over 30m. “She could run like the wind. Asthma shouldn’t stop kids from leading an active life.”
Te Poi School headmaster John Muir said that the closeknit rural school was devastated by Kristen’s death. “She was a lovely young lady. She tried her hardest at school, and was very well respected by everyone.” Hancox said sufferers should seek advice from their doctor if their symptoms worsened.
Fatal asthma attacks in young children are comparatively rare, according to research by the Asthma Foundation. People over the age of 45 are 10 times more likely to die than children aged 5 to 14.