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True Stories

This One's for Charlie


Written by SHELLEY SEKULA-GIBBS, At-large Member Of The Houston City Council, October, 2004

Since my first days in office, I have worked at City Hall and in the community to build the momentum needed to put this issue on the council agenda. This issue is not one that is new to me. I have been working for many years to ban smoking in public places.

My fight against secondhand smoking started more than 20 years ago during my family practice residency at a Jacksonville, Fla., charity hospital. There, I met 7-year-old Charlie, a beautiful little boy with a frail body and big eyes. Charlie suffered from severe asthma. His medical chart was thick, and he visited the emergency room so frequently that we all grew attached. Charlie knew he needed help and didn't like to leave the hospital. He constantly worried about breathing and preferred the emergency room to his home, where nearly all of his family members smoked. When you are out of breath, you are so frightened, and Charlie always seemed so innocent and vulnerable.

One day, I noticed Charlie had stopped coming to the emergency room. When I asked around, one of the nurses told me that paramedics had found him dead, clutching his inhaler.

Charlie's death filled my heart with sorrow and strengthened my resolve that no one should have to breathe secondhand smoke.




 

He Wanted You to Know | Gruen's Missing Jaw | Charlie
Brandon's Missing Leg | Remembering Mom | More Stories

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