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Boy Dies After A School Policy Kept Him Away From His Puffer

Ryan Gibbons died from a severe asthma attack that could have been prevented...if his school hadn't taken his inhaler away.

The 12-year-old boy from Ontario, Canada was outside at recess when he started getting short of breath. All he needed to do was reach for his inhaler that is normally on him at all times, but this time he couldn't. His inhaler had been taken and locked away in the principal's office.

Ryan's friends knew something was wrong and tried carrying him to the office to get the life-saving medicine, but Ryan passed out before they reached the office. He never recovered.

Ryan's mom, Sarah Gibbons, is leading a campaign in hopes that this will never happen again. She introduced "Ryan's Law", which would allow students who have inhalers to carry them on their person at all times.

"I received many a phone call stating Ryan had taken an inhaler to school and they found it in his bag and would like me to come pick it up because he wasn't even allowed to bring it home with him," Ryan's mom said. "There's supposed to be one in the office and that's the only one he can have. I didn't understand why."

There's really no clear reason as to why schools are so against children having their inhalers on them. Most of stems out of fear from the schools that if a student shares their medication with others, or administers it to themselves incorrectly, they could be held liable.

"I understand these concerns, but what's the liability in allowing a child with asthma to exercise without having access to an inhaler when a nurse may or may not even be at the school?" asks Maureen George, a nursing professor at the University of Pennsylvania.

As of April 2015, Ontario has made it illegal for schools to take inhalers away from kids, all thanks to Ryan's Law.

But there are still many schools across the country that don't allow children to have their life-saving medication nearby.

"It's usually part of a blanket understanding of medications, so they say medications are unsafe, they have that idea in their head, so they lock them up in the principal's office," says Rob Oliphant, Asthma Society of Canada's president and CEO. "Children need to have the confidence that their medication is near them, that if they have an exacerbation, if they're out running in a playground they have something with them. Not only do their triggers actually affect their lungs...but the stress of not having a puffer available can actually exacerbate it and make it a worse feeling."

What do you think about schools that keep inhalers away from kids? Do you agree? Let us know.

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