“If someone hears our story and takes asthma seriously — if we can save even just one life — that would make all the difference.”
-Rebecca Azuelos (Ouanounou), Shalom Nethanel Ouanounou’s Mother.
On September 27, 2017, Shalom Nethanel Ouanounou suffered a severe asthma attack. After battling for his life for six months on life support, Shalom Nethanel tragically passed away. He was only 25 years old. No life should ever be cut short by asthma, and that’s why his family is working to continue his legacy of hope by helping to raise funds for Asthma Canada to stop asthma attacks — and save lives.
Shalom Nethanel Ouanounou will forever be remembered by those who knew and loved him as someone who always put others before himself. He was a loving son, cherished brother, and friend to all. His name Shalom in Hebrew means peace, and it was a virtue he embodied through his actions – he was always one to bring peace within his family, friends and community.
Shalom Nethanel lived with asthma since childhood. His parents took him back and forth at least once a week to the hospital because of the severity of his asthma symptoms. When he was around 3 or 4 years old, Shalom Nethanel’s asthma was often a challenge and he was on multiple puffers and a nebulizer. As he got older, he seemed to outgrow his asthma.
Shalom Nethanel loved life and always went out of his way to make others feel included. He was protective, always quick to take the blame for others and never afraid to lend a helping hand. His family has never stopped fighting for him and will not stop now – they keep his memory and spirit of generosity alive through acts of kindness and trying to make a difference in as many lives as possible.
As years went by, Shalom Nethanel’s asthma seemed to be well controlled. He loved being active, working out and playing basketball. At 25, he was living on his own and was working towards getting various certificates for the trade of installing windows and doors. He was working for a company at the time that he was passionate about growing. Shalom Nethanel was always focused on making a difference in the lives of those around him and put others ahead of his own health at times.
Living on his own, Shalom Nethanel thought that he could handle his asthma. He didn’t take it as seriously as his mother and family wanted him to, and never wanted to be an inconvenience or a bother when he experienced an asthma attack. He truly felt he could manage it on his own.
On September 27, 2017, Shalom Nethanel had an asthma attack and called 911. For Shalom Nethanel to have called 911 meant that it must have been the most serious asthma attack he had ever had. It took 20 minutes for the paramedics to arrive, and after many precious minutes on scene, the treatment administered wasn’t enough. After a second emergency team arrived, Shalom Nethanel was rushed to the hospital.
At the hospital, Shalom Nethanel was placed on life support. After six months on life support, Shalom Nethanel Ouanounou passed away with his family by his side.
His name and the impact he made on the lives of so many will never be forgotten. His family now continues his work in a different way. Even though he is no longer with us physically, he lives on through his family, friends, and the many acts of kindness inspired by his memory.
Shalom Nethanel’s family has a message for other young adults living with asthma:
“Once you pass twenty years old you take your life into your own hands. You’re responsible for your own health, and if you don’t take your asthma seriously and if you lose your life because of asthma, that affects your loved ones, it affects your friends, and it affects the lives of everyone who knew you. It changes them and they will never see life the same way without you. Know how important your health is to those around you. Take your asthma seriously. Think about your loved ones, and the impact it has on them.”
It’s never just asthma. No parent should ever live in fear of losing a child to asthma, and yet tragically 250 Canadians just like Shalom Nethanel Ouanounou lose their life to this disease each year. That is why the Ouanounou family is honouring Shalom Nethanel by launching a memorial campaign in support of Asthma Canada to help ensure that no other family has to go through the same tragedy ever again.
You can help stop asthma attacks from claiming lives by giving a gift to support asthma education, advocacy and research.