Chris Tarrant presents an appeal on behalf of Asthma UK, a charity which supports millions of people with asthma in the UK, and which funds research to help find a cure.
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From the moment we're born we instinctively want to breathe,
it's natural, it's what keeps us alive.
But some people can't even take that for granted.
I know about this because I'm asthmatic.
When I had an attack
it was one of the most terrifying moments of my life.
I got very frightened.
I was on a crowded street and I started to panic,
and that's the worst thing you can do.
Now, actually it's fine now. It's controlled by medicine
and as long as I do what the doctors tell me, it's not a problem.
But nearly 5½ million people suffer from asthma in the UK alone.
And 250,000 have severe asthma,
like 33-year-old Stacian.
From the age of six I really loved dancing, I really loved it.
When I was diagnosed, that's when everything stopped.
Aged 10, asthma changed Stacian's life completely.
I wasn't allowed to play out with the kids any more, like sports.
I had to limit everything I was doing.
It was really frustrating as a child, I just keep saying
"I want to be normal. Why can't I run like my brothers and sisters?"
Stacian's family had no choice but to restrict her,
as even limited exercise led to attacks.
Everything was affecting me, hay fever, strong-smelling chemicals,
I was having hospital admissions three, four times a week.
SHE BREATHES WITH DIFFICULTY
Two years ago, her attacks had become so serious that her
consultant felt it was time to break some very difficult news.
I was told that the hospital couldn't do anything for me
and I was going to die.
Any minute your next attack will definitely kill you.
At that point I was thinking of my dad,
he died at the age of 26 of asthma.
I start having flashbacks of when my dad used to lift me
and play games with me, and I could hear him wheezing and struggling,
and then I just started breaking down.
I did not want to die because I haven't even enjoyed my life.
For some people asthma can be a real burden.
That's why I'm appealing on behalf of Asthma UK,
a leading charity
that funds ground-breaking research hoping to find a cure,
but also helps sufferers, on a daily basis, handle their condition.
Now this work is absolutely vital
because every single day in the UK alone, three people die from asthma.
This is Annette, her daughter Sophie was diagnosed with asthma
when she was a young child, but with medication she coped fine.
Always had lots of friends knocking on the door
for her, loved to play out. She...
she just lived life to the full.
But when the family moved to a more rural area, everything changed.
Sophie deteriorated quite rapidly,
She was going to the hospital a lot more.
It was just so hard to see her struggling for air in some ways,
and struggling to breathe.
I can't believe how much pain or anything that she must have been in,
but she would never
tell us. She always said, "I'm OK."
Sophie's attacks were landing her in hospital much more frequently,
but nothing could have prepared the family for what would happen next.
Aged nine, Sophie had her final asthma attack.
It was sudden and all attempts to revive her failed.
in a million years thought
she would ever die from the asthma,
and certainly not
at nine years of age.
We would have hoped that
if she was, it would have took her
a lot later on in life
rather than so young.
Nothing could ever bring back a loved one.
But I do believe that in future it should be possible
to save mothers like Annette
from experiencing such a devastating loss.
But that'll only happen if we can properly understand
the root causes of this all too common condition.
Thankfully, Asthma UK are funding research in laboratories
like this, at the MRC-Asthma UK Centre,
where scientists are dedicating themselves to unravelling
the mysteries of asthma, and finding new and more effective treatments.
I've been in asthma research for about 20 years,
and whilst there's been a very slow but steady accumulation of knowledge
during that period, I think we're at a really exciting time at the moment.
And I think over the next ten years, people will discover
all sorts of things about why people get asthma,
and we'll be able to design new treatments that are life-changing
for people with asthma.
But you get to a point where you need another injection of money
to be able to translate that in to new therapies,
and that's what we really need now.
Annette and her family had to come to terms with Sophie's death.
But the shadow that asthma had cast over their lives hasn't moved away.
About two years ago, our daughter Leah came in
and there was a bit of a wheeze and it took us by surprise really.
And all I could think of was, "Oh, no, please.
"I hope it's just an infection or something."
Doctors ran tests, and confirmed that Leah had asthma too.
I was absolutely devastated thinking, "Oh, no, could it happen again?"
Annette got in touch with Asthma UK
and is now able to draw on their wealth of knowledge
about how to manage Leah's condition.
Asthma UK has really helped us over the last few months
especially when we found their social media site through Facebook,
which will tell you how to manage your asthma,
if you think your asthma is not in control.
Leah has found that really helpful,
to explain to her that what happened to Sophie
isn't going to happen to everybody.
For Stacian, asthma was so debilitating
she was making funeral arrangements in her 20s.
But then she was thrown a lifeline.
A new drug that researchers had been developing in the lab
was made available to certain patients.
Before, I couldn't do normal activities of daily living,
but then I could walk to the bus stop,
I could get up and I could cook.
To me, research is really important
because if it wasn't for research finding this new treatment, Xolair,
I would not be here today.
The drug Xolair isn't a cure, and doesn't work for everyone,
but it has brought Stacian back from the brink.
It might take years, I might never live to see it,
but research might make a difference to someone's life
where they don't need to go through what I'm going through today.
250,000 people in the UK have asthma so severe
that current treatments can't help them.
Asthma research can give these people hope for the future
by searching for new treatments
that could give them a good quality of life,
free from the fear of dying in the next attack.
With your help, it can.
Please go to the website...
...where you can donate.
If you don't have access to
the internet then call 0800 011 011.
And if you can't get through,
please, please, please keep trying.
You can also donate £10
by texting DONATE to 70121.
Texts cost £10 plus your
standard network message charge
and the whole £10 goes to ASTHMA UK.
Full terms and conditions can
be found at bbc.co.uk/lifeline.
Telephone calls are free
from most landlines.
Some networks and mobile operators
will charge for these calls.
Or if you'd like to post a donation,
please make your cheque payable
to ASTHMA UK and send it to
Freepost, BBC Lifeline Appeal,
writing ASTHMA UK
on the back of the envelope.
And if you want the charity
to claim Gift Aid on your donation,
please include an email
or postal address,
so that they can send you
a Gift Aid form.
Who Wants to be a Millionaire? presenter Chris Tarrant presents an appeal on behalf of Asthma UK, a charity which provides vital support for the millions of people with asthma in the UK, and which funds groundbreaking research to help find a cure. Asthma UK is a charity close to Chris's heart as he has asthma himself.
The film features Stacian Gilbert, a 33-year-old Londoner whose life has been dominated by her asthma. She shares her experiences of how she lives with the constant threat of an attack ending her life, as it did her father's, but how - with the charity's help - she manages to live as full a life as possible. Her hope is that more medical research will one day find a cure.