An asthma attack took Thea Notaras‘ life. She lost her life a fortnight before her 17th birthday.
Thea’s father, John, was taking care of Thea and her sister Melanie since their mother’s demise. They were 9 and 8 years old back then. Thea’s condition got worse after her mother died.
Lack of breath made Thea lose her color. She appeared blue on occasions and John had to administer mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.
A fortnight before her 17th birthday Thea was out with friends and John wasn’t there.
On 10 September 1988, John asked her if she had checked her peak flow meter. A handheld device asthmatics use to monitor their condition. The device measures airflow from the lungs.
Thea arrived home later that day while no one was home. She was already unwell when she arrived and by the time Melanie, it was too late.
John, since the death of his daughter, has been donating generously to fight asthma.
Researching the deadly disease
Asthma claims more than 400 lives in Australia annually. We could save more than 66% of these with timely treatment and care.
John doesn’t want anyone to go through what he did. Till date, he has donated more than $335,000 to various institutes.
Researches at the University of Sydney and the Woolcock Institute of Medical Research have been particularly helpful. A clinical trial of the technology is being conducted by them. This could save lives by warning asthma sufferers of imminent flare-ups.
The institutes are also funding the project through a crowdfunding campaign. On 17 September 2019, Thank You Day was celebrated to commemorate the contribution of people.
A funded study is testing a new use-at-home device to monitor lung function. As asthma patients breathe into a mouthpiece, gentle sound waves probe their lungs. This technique is known as “forced oscillation” is proving successful.
The results are available to patients and their doctors via digital technology. They can track lung function in real-time.
The device can be helpful in predicting attacks. The lead professor, Prof. King, thinks this could transform approach to asthma.
Current asthma measurements are outdated and have been in use since the 1940s.
The current technique utilizes the peak flow meter. Peak flow measurements are difficult to interpret. Even regular users can face problems in its interpretation.
It is difficult and tiring to perform too as the patients have to breathe into the device repeatedly.
These barriers mean peak flow recordings are not dependable to manage asthma. Patients depend on symptoms like wheezing and breathlessness. While this can help, symptoms can be deceptive and vary between individuals.
A revolutionary device in the works
The new device helps test lung function at home. It can identify when asthma is well controlled, changes or becomes unstable.
The device development is still in its infancy. It measures a little bigger than a basketball and is easy to carry around. There is technology available to transfer the data it records. Current measures favor symptoms while this one will depend on objective measurements.
Asthma flare-ups can be the required heads-up for detecting and treating the disease. Timely starting the treatment can reduce the symptoms in the long-run and its severity.
Thea Notaras would have been 47 years old if she would have lived. Her family still thinks about her all the time. John is hopeful that his contribution would help in curbing this dreadful disease.
Notaras says how eager he was to do something in order to fight back this deadly disease. After many years, he has now, at last, come up with an incredible technology to fight back the disease.