Family devastated by teen's fatal asthma attack 'triggered by bushfire smoke'

A family has been left in shock after the sudden death of a 19-year-old woman who suffered a fatal asthma attack believed to have been triggered by smoke from the NSW bushfires.

Courtney Partridge-McLennan, from Glen Innes, died on the night of November 28.

Her body was found the next morning in the granny flat she was living in at the back of her parents Chris and Tammy’s home, The Sunday Telegraph reported.

Asthma Australia posted about Ms Partridge-McLennan’s death on their Facebook page, saying: “Courtney lost her life in late November when bushfire smoke from nearby fires is thought to have triggered a fateful asthma attack.”

In a statement sent to Yahoo News Australia, the teenager’s family said “our lives changed forever with the sudden and shocking passing of Courtney”.

Sister Cherylleigh Partridge, 27, told The Sunday Telegraph the night Ms Partridge-McLennan died “the smoke came in so heavy you could not even see the hospital across the road”.

“Police said it must have been quick because she had her phone torch on and her Ventolin [inhaler] on the bed. It must have been so quick because she would have gone to mum and dad,” Cherylleigh said.

The 19-year-old’s family said they didn’t want her passing to go unnoticed against the backdrop of the fires.

“With the support of Asthma Australia, Courtney’s story has opened a necessary dialogue,” the family said.

“Our hope is that an ongoing conversation now begins about the serious and often unpredictable nature of asthma.

Smoke from the Gulf Road fire fills the early morning sky on November 11, 2019 in Glen Innes. Source: Brook Mitchell/Getty Images
Smoke from the Gulf Road fire fills the early morning sky on November 11, 2019 in Glen Innes. Source: Brook Mitchell/Getty Images

“Asthma can set on quickly and aggressively and often comes without warning.

“With a large portion of our state shrouded in bushfire smoke, our hope is that greater consideration is given to air quality monitoring and reporting, particularly in regional areas as well as accurate representation of the far spread, catastrophic health impacts our nation’s bushfire crisis is really having.”

Social media users responded to the teenager’s death, leaving heartfelt messages of support for the family.

“Condolences to you and her family and people do need to take asthma seriously,” one social media user wrote.

“Tragic, my heart goes out to this family, and to anyone who has lost a loved one to the bushfires,” another said.

Bushfire smoke triggering asthma attacks

Asthma Australia cautioned it was not just those diagnosed with asthma who could be affected by smoke.

“One in nine Australians are affected by asthma yet due to high levels of air pollution found in bushfire smoke, people who previously did not have such health problems could be experiencing symptoms,” its website reads.

Some people applauded the warnings of the health body who have been vocal about the effects of prolonged and intense exposure to bushfire smoke on the public.

“Other people take breathing normally for granted and really don’t understand how the current air issues we are having affect us,” one person wrote on Facebook.

Asthma Australia CEO Michelle Goldman urged people impacted by poor air quality bushfire smoke to take part in the recently launched smoke impact survey, which would help to provide more information for the future.

“We are in the grips of a public health emergency with continuous inundation of bushfire smoke,” she said.

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