12/10/2013 05:35 pm ET Updated Jan 25, 2014

Mom Fights For New Asthma Legislation After Son's Death

A Canadian mom who lost her son to asthma is now fighting to make sure other children do not suffer the same misfortune.

Twelve-year-old Ryan Gibbons died in October 2012 after suffering an asthma attack at school. Ryan typically used an inhaler to alleviate asthmatic symptoms, but his Ontario school kept the inhaler locked up in an office, the Canadian Press reports.

"So as he was going to the office to get his inhaler, he kind of was having a hard time and had to be carried into the office, and by the time he got there he had blacked out," his mother, Sandra Gibbons, told the outlet. "To this day I really don't know how exactly the whole day unfolded for him."

Now Gibbons is pushing legislation that would allow students to keep their inhalers close by. The legislation, which was named for her son and introduced by a Member of Provincial Parliament named Jeff Yurek, calls for school boards across the province to implement asthma management plans, according to The Toronto Star.

It is unclear to Gibbons why Ryan’s school forced him to lock up his inhaler, according to the Canadian Press. However, policies on inhalers vary by school in Ontario, where, as the Toronto Star notes, about one in five children suffers from asthma.

“I found out at some schools the students aren’t allowed to have them outside of the principal’s office ... while at other schools I talked to the student is allowed the inhaler but it has to be in the teacher’s desk,” Yurek told the Canadian Press. “But that doesn’t help them when they go out in the playground."

According to a National Post column by Robyn Urback, “It is likely Yurek’s private member’s bill will pass its final reading and become law.” The legislation recently passed a second reading and will possibly have a third, according to Canadian outlet St. Thomas Today.

The World Health Organization notes that about 235 million people have asthma. According to the WHO website, asthma is the "most common chronic disease among children."



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