A young man described by his sister as “the life and soul of the party” tragically died after suffering an asthma attack – just hours after learning about the death of his grandmother.
Lewis Calvert, who was diagnosed with asthma from a young age, tragically died earlier this year after going into cardiac arrest on March 12.
The 23-year-old from Thorne, near Doncaster, had felt unwell throughout the day and had missed a doctor’s appointment so he could prioritise helping his dad in the wake of his grandmother’s death.
Later that night, Lewis’ condition worsened and his concerned dad drove him to hospital but just minutes into the journey he fell unconscious.
“Dad persuaded him to get in the car and go to hospital but not even a mile from the house he went unconscious,” his grieving sister Gemma Beal said.
“He went into cardiac arrest and my dad phoned for an ambulance. They talked to him over the phone about how to do CPR.
“It was late at night and he was on a grass verge and it was hammering down with rain and my dad was giving him CPR until the ambulance crews arrived.”
When paramedics turned up, Lewis was still unresponsive and despite the best efforts of his dad he could not be revived.
He was taken to hospital but died on March 15 after suffering a brain injury due to a lack of oxygen.
‘A fantastic uncle’
The shock of losing her grandmother and her brother just days apart, devastated 29-year-old Gemma and the rest of her family.
She described Lewis as an “amazing character” who “always wanted to be the centre of attention”.
“Whenever he was in a room you knew he was there,” Gemma said. “He was the life and soul of the party and he loved a gin but he was just such a kind-hearted person who always went out of his way to help others.
“He was a fantastic uncle to my two boys and he was brilliant with the kids. He’d always come round with goodies and treats and he was an amazing character.”
Lewis was living with his parents in Moorends after graduating from university in November 2019. He had applied to join a Scottish police force and work for them in the probation service and Gemma admitted his death was completely unexpected.
“When he was a child and growing up his asthma was really bad but when he got to his late teens it had settled and was more manageable,” she said.
“He didn’t really have any flare ups as he got older and he didn’t grow out of it but it definitely just settled.
“Nine times out of ten he would have an inhaler with him but when he was taken ill this time he didn’t have one and he’d booked to have a doctor’s appointment because he had been feeling a bit breathless leading up to it but it was nothing that he hadn’t experienced before.”
‘Shock of losing his grandma caused Lewis’ death’
Unfortunately on the morning Lewis suffered a cardiac arrest, he found out his grandmother had died.
She had just moved into a care home and to save his dad the emotional stress of having to go through her belongings, Lewis offered to pick up her possessions from the home.
However, this caused him to miss his appointment with his doctor, and although it has not been confirmed, Gemma and the family think the shock of losing his grandmother contributed to a severe asthma attack.
She said: “For years and years he had been absolutely fine. That’s why this was completely out of the blue and I definitely think it was the shock.
“He didn’t have his inhaler because he had this doctor’s appointment and was busy focusing on everyone but himself.
“We all firmly believe it was the shock of grandma’s death as they were so close.”
Gemma’s message to asthma sufferers
When the family learnt that Lewis had suffered a brain injury, they had to fly his mum back from Turkey where she had gone on holiday.
As it happened prior to the lockdown, they were able to be with him in his final hours and visit him in the chapel of rest before Lewis’ organs were used to save the lives of three other people.
To express their gratitude, the family started fundraising for Doncaster Royal Infirmary’s critical care team and so far they have raised in excess of £2,000.
However, Lewis’ tragic death has inspired a heartbroken Gemma to also highlight the dangers of asthma and the importance of always carrying an inhaler.
“Lewis had become complacent with it,” Gemma admitted. “He never carried it around with him religiously and I never took it seriously but an attack can come on so quick.
“I just can’t believe how quickly it takes hold and there is not an awful lot you can do. You never think it will happen to you and your family but unfortunately it did and it’s a very serious issue.”
In a message to asthma sufferers, Gemma said: “Please always carry an inhaler and seek medical advice straight away. Please don’t leave it too late.”
Gemma, who also wanted to praise staff working in the clinical care department, added: “They were fantastic. They couldn’t have done anything more – each and every one of them were incredible.
“They should be so proud of themselves looking after really poorly patients day in, day out. I honestly don’t know how they do it and they really looked after us.”
You can donate to Gemma’s GoFundMe page in memory of Lewis here.