Leanne and her husband Darren at the beach

Leanne's Story

Date published

09 May 2024

Leanne and her husband Darren were excited to be driving a new campervan they had just purchased in Perth back to picturesque Exmouth, the town they’ve called home for the past six years. The couple were dreaming big about all the memories they would make, having adventures in their new vehicle.

Leanne in hospital

During their long drive north, they made a stopover in Kalbarri. It happened to be extremely windy, which triggered Leanne’s asthma.

Leanne says she barely considered herself an asthmatic because it had been years since she’d had any symptoms. However, she still carried Ventolin which she used to try to clear her wheeze.

As the hours passed and they headed closer to home, her puffer was no longer keeping her breathing under control. Leanne’s condition deteriorated fast and by the time they reached Exmouth she was gasping for air and frantically tugging on Darren’s shirt, telling him, “I am going to die.”

Darren rushed Leanne to Exmouth Hospital, where doctors placed a nebuliser on her, but it wasn’t improving her breathing.

“The amazing doctors at Exmouth tried their best and threw everything at it, but they didn’t have the equipment needed to get on top of her asthma,” said Darren.

Leanne urgently required specialist care in Perth. The RFDS was called to transfer her to Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital. During the flight, the plane had to fly at low altitude because of her breathing problems.

“They took me to where I needed to be,” Leanne said. “The doctor and the nurse were so calm and focused on my care the whole flight.”

“They are not given enough credit for what they do – it’s more than just a job, they saved my life.”

“They are not given enough credit for what they do – it’s more than just a job, they saved my life.”


She spent days recovering in ICU at SCGH before being moved to the High Dependency Respiratory Ward.

Leanne says she now takes her asthma care much more seriously.

“Leanne is here today because of the RFDS getting her to Perth, it really was touch and go,” said Darren.

“People couldn’t live in regional towns if it wasn’t for the Royal Flying Doctor Service.”

Before the asthma attack, Darren and Leanne had found out their first grandchild was on the way, and as Leanne waited for the RFDS to arrive, unconscious and connected to medical machinery, Darren whispered in her ear, urging her to pull through so she could become a Nanna.

“I’m going to make the most of every day that I’m above ground and live life to the fullest,” said Leanne.

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