A MUM feared she would never get the chance to speak to her husband again after an asthma attack left him in a coma.
Steph Bell’s life was turned upside down when husband Jamie began struggling to breathe in the early hours of the morning in July last year.
He was rushed to hospital, where he was put into a coma, amid concern he could have suffered brain damage after his heart stopped beating for four minutes.
Incredibly, Jamie, now 36, made a remarkable recovery and was discharged from hospital within the week.
Steph, 29, said: “When he was unconscious, those were the toughest few days of my life.
“I did not have my best friend to explain anything to or my mum to give me a cuddle. I did not have anyone.
“Jamie survived and came out of hospital six days after the asthma attack. He was the closest anybody can get to dying and the consultants are genuinely surprised he survived. They called him a medical unicorn.”
Last Thursday, the Gullane couple, who have a two-year son, Felix, held a charity ball at the Strawberry Barn, near West Barns, in aid of Asthma + Lung UK and smashed their £5,000 fundraising target.
In July last year, the family had been visiting Steph’s family near Bath.
Jamie, who works as a chartered building surveyor, had complained of hay fever-like symptoms the previous evening.
However, in the early hours of the morning, his health took a turn for the worse and he was admitted to Royal United Hospital Bath.
Steph told the Courier: “Four days after our son turned one, Jamie had a life-threatening asthma attack.
“He gets bad hay fever but we just did not realise this could result in such a bad asthma attack.
“He went into cardiac arrest and his heart stopped for four minutes.
“I had to ring an ambulance, which arrived six minutes later.
“His heart stopped completely but they literally arrived seconds after his heart stopped.
“They started working with him, fractured his sternum and cracked his ribs so they could start CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) and brought him back.
“I was holding our son watching this all unfold and then we were taken to hospital. It was during Covid times and we were not allowed in the same ambulance.
“All I remember was following the blue light ambulance and no idea what was going on in front of me.
“We got to the hospital and were not allowed in the same place as him and he was rushed into the red resus room.”
Steph praised the hospital staff for their efforts in keeping her informed while her husband was in hospital.
After being sent home, she waited for an update from consultants and got a special call the following day.
Tearfully, she told the Courier: “At about 11am, I got a phone call and I was told ‘someone wants to talk to you’ and they put the phone to Jamie’s ear.
“He said ‘Hi’ – I didn’t think I would ever hear him again.
“It was totally the best thing and I totally broke down. I honestly did not think I would hear him speak again; it was really amazing.”
Steph, who works as a maths tutor, revealed that the asthma attack had also affected her.
She said: “I suffered quite badly with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) afterwards.
“I saw a counsellor, who helped me through it. I could hear Jamie gasping for air when he was upstairs working and I thought I could constantly hear him being unable to breathe.
“I did not let him go anywhere on his own for months afterwards.”
Since the attack, Jamie’s medication has been altered and he is now able to play football and run without becoming breathless.
The couple, who are expecting a second child later this year, organised a fundraising ball at the Strawberry Barn last Thursday.
The fundraiser, in aid of Asthma + Lung UK, saw band Bleeker donate their time for the event.
Steph was delighted that the ball raised a brilliant £14,000 and said it meant that a “horrible, traumatic event” now had a positive side as the money raised could go towards saving lives.
She said: “Our children will know what we did.”
The charity funds cutting-edge asthma research.
Across the UK, 5.4 million people (one in every 12 adults and one in every 11 children) have asthma.
Symptoms include coughing, wheezing, feeling breathless or tight chested.
Tragically, four people die every day because of asthma attacks.
Rebekah Ahmed, head of community fundraising at Asthma + Lung UK, said: “Asthma is an oftenmisunderstood condition, but as Jamie’s experience shows, asthma attacks can be serious.
“We are so pleased Jamie was able to get the treatment he needed and that he and his wife Steph have turned this terrifying experience into a positive and organised a brilliant charity ball.
“We are so thankful and grateful to Jamie and Steph for their incredible efforts and to all of our amazing fundraisers who make our work possible.
“Around 12 million people in the UK will have a lung condition during their life and deal with breathlessness, which can be very scary.
“Through the support of our incredible fundraisers and supporters, we will fight for every breath so that one day we will have a world where everyone can breathe with healthy lungs.”