When a child’s heart stops beating, often this is not because of a heart problem – often this is due to a breathing problem.
It is children who are most vulnerable to respiratory illness and often housing is at fault.
Big studies tell us that when houses are damp and overcrowded these are nourishing environments for viral pathogens and bacteria to grow.
The body becomes susceptible to these and kids pick them up.
I recall one evening after a cold snap more vividly than others.
It was frightfully cold – a strong southerly wind was blowing and at ten o’clock at night the emergency department was essentially a pediatric ward filled with coughing and spluttering kids.
I would talk to them to ask what their home situation was like; the vast majority came from poor housing.
One child in particular needed oxygen and was going blue without it.
The poor kid had an awful cough with a terrible wheezing sound.
It really broke my heart because I knew that we would support him through this illness – but then send him back to the same conditions that brought him into hospital in the first place.